Lara Chamas | Di(cat)spora | carpet | 2016
During my research trip in Palestine I became overwhelmed with helplessness, feeling powerless to directly change anything. My observation of the society was the oppression trickled down from Israel to the Palestinian authority, to the workers, families, parents, how they treat their children, how the children play with each other, and finally down to the animals, who have no communicative power, facing similar occupation and lack of food, water and shelter. There is an abundance of stray cats, and to me they seemed the lowest of the low in society, and I was drawn to them. To feel like I was directly making a positive impact, I would walk around town every night and feel the stray cats. I visited the Al-Aqsa mosque, and upon entering the supposed prayer room of Mohammed, I remembered a story my parents told me as a child. Mohammed went to pay and found cats asleep on his prayer mat, to not disturb them, he instead of moving them, cut around the cats, took the rest of the mat and prayed beside them. This struck a nerve with my cat feeding expeditions, and reminded me to show compassion to every creature.
I used this story as a methodology, for each cat I saw, 42 in total, there is a cat cut out rug based off a silhouette of one of my own cats, in the middle is a rug, symbolic of a home, with my three cats represented. Each of the Palestinian cats I gave a surrogate home to, that I cared for, are placed around the home but are also self-contained islands in themselves, independent, survivors. Sometimes it’s easier to talk about cats than it is to talk about people.