From playful to meaningful

Yellow has become a trademark colour ( just in case you didn’t notice), it has become a part of my identity ( or it may have been for a while, unconsciously)

The same way the project Latitude 34 took over my life on many levels, following an imaginary line around the globe, linking my place of birth to a city I wanted to call home, and the number of years I was on this planet.

Most ideas I have in terms of personal work stem from the topics spawned on the journey, namely home, culture, identity, how they are entwined, can dictate, hinder, enhance one or the other, where we are and where we are going. The yellow line, the yellow shoes became as much playful as they were meaningful.

01 - The yellow trip a self portrait -- Mojave desert  autoportrait

The Yellow trip – a self portrait

Stand out from the barcode

Do what you have to do- stand out from the bar code

 

photo 2

02.Japanese garden

Japanese garden

Kalk Bay self portrait

Hello!!

IMG_9935

I have my blue moments too – then its time to get the antidote, a dose of loving yellow.

Interestingly the deeper I get in the project, the more that line, those yellow shoes became intrinsically related to my identity, the more what I encountered was a reflection, a metaphor of what was going on in my life. I have to stress that as an artist, life isn’t separated from the creative process. At all.

Recently South Africa there was no central yellow line. It was on the side. It happens to be a time in my life where a direction I thought was certain, a line was nicely centered and directed all of a sudden vanished, in fog.

I didn’t like the thought of staying on the side line either.IMG_9820-2 copy

There are a few options: I could make my line, paint it obviously.

IMG_9864 copy

IMG_9871 copy

It wasn’t very convenient because cars were all the time coming and as you all know, I am as much solo on my journey as I am shooting my photographs. The wind didnt help either.

I tried another way but my line went flying.

IMG_9719 .02

Flying did I say? Maybe this FLY is the key term, a recurrent one and one I thought will be the identity of 2014. I also only painted and traced the lines behind me….uhhh …that I know, and i never like to go back the past…its the one ahead I need to trace! I can only find out once I keep going, and it may not be ahead but up!

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Latitude 34 at Tedx Casablanca!

Latitude 34 TEDX talk in Casablanca is finally online!

Enjoy and be gentle, it’s my first ever talk, I was a little bit nervous.

Make sure you watch the others, they were all brilliant, especially Hicham OudghiriMamoun Ghallab and Mahjouba !

Thanks again to all those who supported me, especially Fleur Eve and Andy Coley for his last minute remote NLP session!

For those who don’t speak french, and until the subtitles are up and running – they will be in several languages here is roughly what I said in english:

“It was fall, the trees were yellow, I was following a double yellow line in front of me for hours,  I wear a yellow jacket,  I had my yellow shoes in the trunk. Suddenly I had a vision, I stopped the car, put the shoes on the road, snapped a picture and I carried on. It was the yellow trip. Yellow which became a trademark and part of the identity of this project and myself.

A spontaneous picture for an improvised voyage, dashed off, an impulse, on a whim. Like a piece of Jazz.

We can go on a journey to get lost or to find ourselves, but “no matter the road is the life” said Kerouac. For me it was definitely one that led me to my new understanding of self, and questioning the notion of home space culture and identity, place and non place.

So how did this all come about? Lat 34? On the 10 October 2010, while I was staying in Los Angeles, a city close to my heart I was questioning this familiarity I was sensing, a familiarity in the light and its tone.This is when I realised I was at 34.02 Latitude, which is exactly the same as my home town Rabat. I was about to be 34 years old. This was enough for me. common.Within a week i was on the road. I didn’t think, I didn’t want to think, I had to go. I decided to trace as if I was a pen, the latitude 34 around the globe

This sums up pretty well my creative process and my artistic practice. The same way a chemist creates a new products via a chemical reaction, I take sterile numbers and data, objects shapes and colours that have nothing in common and with a narrative, emotion some affect and a little bit of myself I make a work of art.  As we all know: nothing get lost nothing gets create, every thing is transformed.

I also always like to bring a physical implication in my work, a ” boditude”, in a way or another, mirroring our mortal coil on our planet, at the same time physical and metaphysical, the same way the horizon is an illusion, and yet a line that links in a very “real” way the sky and the earth.

I  find myself   tracing my own personal line on a map . It could only be yellow. In blue is what is left to do, which is South Africa and Middle east.

Digital Maps for Graphic Design

I have done roughly at birds flight 23000 km , which is half of the circumference of the globe at the equator. Of this 23000  I drove 18000 – I also used buses, plane train, bike and hike when I can. In those figures i do not include flight distances and small detours. In an ideal world i would have done it all in one go – but I had to do it in a broken line, in stages. Something called life and budget came in the way.

Time was very short on each stage – I  badly underestimated  the time I needed for each section, I didn’t realise all the roads are not made equal, and that the weather could also play a part in the timing of the journey. I do have mitigating circumstances:  this was my first road trip, i only had my driving license for a year when I started and have only driven in town. I used maps to travel, randomly choosing the roads , only sticking to 34. I had to sometimes get out of line, the roads were not built with my project in mind.

Encounters were many and brief, a car is a bubble and a capsule that removes you from the world as much as it gives you freedom to roam it at speed.They most often brought me back to Morocco. I met Charley, fellow traveller,  who let me go with my groceries even if i didn’t have enough on me to pay reminding me of Morocco hospitality towards him when he travelled in 1968.Or Thibaud, who mistook me  for a chinese lady in mount Huashsan thanks to my small size and straw hat. It is through Tibaud that I met Soraya from Tedx Casa without whom I would not be here speaking to you tonight.

I say I was alone driving but it’s not totally true. I had a companion, and it was the moon, a familiar figure, a comforting character. She was always there.

It all started with the light and it is the light that i tried to  captured on journey. A light that speaks of a universality rather than a specificity and particularity  light of space and place.  Despite its ephemeral quality, It often it spoke of stillness, of a suspended moment, like the background scene of a story or a movie.  I learnt that grey can be luminous, especially when the light turns  eucalyptus leave into silver or power cables into gold. I have to tell you that my last name Sqalli can mean  golden thread , which explains why I may be drawn to those colours.

I read recently a quote from Muriel Rukeyser  the universe is made of stories not atoms,. I don’t agree totally;  for me the universe is made of Atoms Ideas and Stories, as we can have plenty of ideas in our heads but  unless we react to them,    act on them, physically,  they don’t come alive. Ideas are primers of a story ready to be lived, a white page ready to be filled,  that can become a 3 tom volume, a novel of a few pages, or a poem of a few lines. It will certainly always be an experience filled with discovery.

I looked for the unusual, the unexpected  where a  certain beauty sits, as if i was a child who marvels at everything and anythings, trying to catch the frame between the frame to paraphrase John Berger

In New Zealand, I spent some time in a Marae in Ahipara, and the maori ladies who taught me to weave were telling me: You have to find your Ara, your path in the weaving. So the ideas and stories that we live and write, its a bit like that, they define paths and patterns in the weaving of our lives.

I invite you to act on your idea for you may not know where you are headed but there are surprises of all kinds on the road. I don’t know about you but when I am at a cross road I always try to take the road less traveled. It’s easy to spot, its usually paved with yellow bricks. And if you get hit by grey skies and rain, you can always just lighten the sky with a yellow balloon!

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Full Moon, it was a while since I caught you

I am a moonie, and in the past few months I had not had any decent shot of the full moon, either I didnt see it or there were clouds or commitments that prevented me from seeing it rise.

The last one I caught was this one , on my drive back from Mirleft to Marrakech last year. it was heaven, it rose right in front of me as I was driving, in a straight line.

Full Moon Agadir morocco

Here in South Africa I nearly missed it. I was in Knsyna/Brenton Lake and it was cloudy.

However there was a band without clouds, it lasted a few minutes, enough for me to catch it.

And I managed to get a very interesting reflection of it too! All without tripod, impromptu completely but magical nonetheless.

full moon Brenton Lake South Africa  IMG_9936 copy

Enjoy!

 

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Here to another kind of flying, to latitude, to numbers and a link with Morocco again.

I learnt to kitesurf this week end.
Kite surfing is also a kind of flying.

I am hooked, but only in warm waters.

Cannon Rocks is admittedly only 33.75 Latitude but close enough to 34.
Interestingly Henry Smith who taught me and had an incredible patience, told me that the first videos he saw of Kitesurfing were made in Morocco.

Cedric who I pictured a few times and who also kitesurfs at Cannon Rocks said that one of his first videos made in Cannon rocks was titles Latitude 33.75.

All random and yet connected, and how I ended up in this small town was just like I do, pick a spot on the map radomly on my line.

 

IMG_9066 IMG_9073 copy IMG_9080 copy IMG_9081 copy IMG_9108 copy IMG_9110 copy IMG_9135 IMG_9137 copy

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Flying numbers – 34

An artist is a dreamer, whether with the head in the clouds or deep underground. personally the former rings more true for recent years, the latter was where I started. I was always attracted  to the idea of flying and anything that flies, including yellow balloons, and numbers!

For 2014 I had decided to learn to fly, namely skydive, which ok is falling but you fly too, and paraglide.And by the way 2014 >> 20+14 = 34.

On this journey I try to find every spot on a coast at 34.02, or as close as I can get like Rabat and the starting point Santa Monica Los Angeles.It took me to random places I would neverhave gone, had i been in the country visited, for the best and the worst ( China). I therefore went to Imabari in Japan, Moonta Bay, Cronulla and Gnarabup in OZ, Pichilemu in Chile and Punta del Diablo in  Uruguay. 

Here in SA I have a ball, the costline is nearly edging on 34, so plenty of 34.02.

I had my points lined up: Myoli beach, Plettenberg, Jeffreys Bay, Brenton lake, Kini Bay. Post soon coming about those.

I decided to skydive in Pletternberg. My friend   in Morocco was doing his course and I was a little envious.I anted a refresher, my last skydive dated to 2007. It wasn’t planned. I was supposed to paraglide but wind was not good, so I pick up  the phone and there was a spot for me. I let you imagine my excitement when I get handed this piece of paper ! 34 sec free fall! I couldn’t have asked for better at 34.02!1526563_726851810682299_1329626384_n 

skydive plett

The day before, I went to Myoli beach, to get my point at 34.02 there and took the detour route, I started at the beach near by and walked this great little stretch of rocks. Roads and journeys are special to me so this path is even more so. It will be interesting pairing similar latitude with similar looks!

Myoli looks incredibly like Ahipara and the light was very similar too!

Rocks  path to Myoli IMG_9764 copy IMG_9889 copy Man walking on Myoli

There happened to be Deon, who was one of the guys paragliding that I had called before. Flying was definitely to be on the menu. And we did fly more than once in different spots. In fact I flew 3 locations at 4 occasions….that another 3 and 4

Looking towards Myoli from sedgefield

brenton on sea

sedgefield

Deon and myself

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South Africa

Back in autumn I felt a strong call for Mamma Africa.

I was reminiscing my trip to Senegal 16 years ago, where I went to a small fisherman village near St louis, lived with the locals, with only a tap outside for water , no electricity or fridge or shower. Oh and I had my cat with me, I had found no one to look after it while away..! It was a wonderful experience. I do remember however feeling like a cow – ie I was always surrounded by flies, which after a while I forgot about.  I remember the people, the social apsect, the strong smells, good and bad.

As my friend David said, I nearly overshot myself to Antartica and I ended in South Africa on th  the 7th of January.

South Africa is on Latitude 34 , it all makes sense.

I land in Cape town, its raining a lot. Very unusual for the season I am told. Of course , I had heard it all before in Australia where I had rain everyday. It wasn’t such a bad thing, I was sick as a dog, I took a plane with sore throat and fever – it took me over 3 days to get a little over it. Thank you London!

1013658_10152477203656102_1183996081_n Green Point Rain

At first it doesnt feel like africa in Cape town, not the Africa I have in mind. Its very white too and very very clean in the city. However it is extremely friendly, and I have not got a sense of insecurity like so many talk about. I don’t think I am naive either.

But it has that special light in sunset with silhouettes of palm trees, araucarias that scream home land and latitude 34!

Sunset with palm trees and araucarias

I have only just started, we shall see.

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On stillness

This is a time of year stillness isn’t a very appropriate. Frenzy is more appropriate especially in Europe and US. Yet there is something to be said for stillness, and not only on those time. Solitude, stillness, silence: in urban environments in general we don’t get  enough of these. Is it my character as an artist that longs for those conditions? After spending 6 months in Los Angeles this summer had me longing and craving those like I have never  before. I felt totally de-centred, my mind was foggy. I had to escape.

Sometimes I go to the desert, this place of humbling silence. For a change I went to the mountains for a few days. I hiked, I blended in, unconsciously, with my outfit ( it was an impulse drive, as per usual, I wasn’t prepared , I didn’t think about what I had on me or with me or the temperature)!

I went watching the moonrise in silence ( asides from bats flying around me and some other weird creatures I couldn’t see running around )

Moon rise Mono Lake

The moon is the dream of the sun" Klee

I sat there – I watched it rise, I had butterflies in my stomach and a big smile, excited like a child.

Felling that sense of oneness with nature is paramount for me, as much as exercise, which I prefer to do in the outdoors too. A ritual that helps centre the mind and the body. It keeps a sanity from the city where everything is noise, is bright, artificial, all is a stimulant. It has its perks and seductive side, but I find it can loose me.

Dazzling city lights

It is a time suspended, stretched where thought can unfold without background noise and I mean by that distraction. It helps you tune yourself  to the within in and out. It is also that precious time where creativity can kick in. Where all the datas amassed over time can find their space so that they can be easily retrieved when needed and sometimes cross each other to form a new one. Creativity requires a moment stillness, a time where all the seed gathered have the time to germinate and unfold into ideas.

I may be an artist, and with that a dreamer with my head in the clouds but I am also very earthy with my feet solidly on the ground! Perhaps it is why I like to have a horizon, that line that links the two together. Bridging the intangible, the abstract to the physical, palpable, biological. Turning one into the other.

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360 – a full circle.

Next week I will be doing a talk at Tedx Casablanca. Tedx events were created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading” and is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level.

I will be a 6 min talk, which is 360 seconds. A whole circumference of time, for a project about my journey on the circumference of the Earth. I am also 36 years old. It will be the 12/12, a Thursday. I was born on a thursday 12 too, but of a different month and different year obviously. I think that’s it with numbers for now.

360 is a circle, and traveling often brings us back to ourselves, to square one, which sometimes can be a full circle.There are many ways to travel of course. Many roads, and all roads are not made equal. I like to take the “road not  taken” as beautifully said by Robert Frost

13 - Chile

Chile

NZ - Northland

NZ

 Argentina

Argentina

AustraliaAustralia

We can run away in our  travels, run away from ourselves and our everyday routine, providing you don’t enjoy it. Some of us just go to switch off. So go but they don’t actually go anywhere, asides from a different weather. I am thinking here of these awful resorts that are plaguing the surface of the earth with private beaches where those who go there barely see anything outside the resort that serves them even the same food as at home. Sometimes they may take a passive tour on a bus…the key word here is passive. It’s the equivalent to fast food for travel. The growth factor of those travel may only lay in the recharge of energy, if there is.

We can also travel and get lost or travel and find ourselves. The journey can follow a straight line, a windy one, a rough one, an uphill one. We can even feel we are going around in circle, a circle where everything brings us back to ourselves, shall we put the right goggles on. We do see the world through filters of our own making,  filters of our upbringing and conditioning, our experience, our knowledge, our character. I always wanted to see the world through the eyes of the others, I often wondered how it worked in other peoples mind and made a great deal of exercise to get out of my own shoes. It is perhaps what led me to always be so curious about life, look to learn new languages, but also put myself in many different shoes before deciding which ones seems the most logical or ring more “truer”.  It is also what got me in trouble at home for always challenging the ways I felt were not optimum,  inadequate, unfair or incomprehensible for me at the time through my child’s eyes, especially in an environment and culture where change was difficult, and adults had nothing to learn from children

If I try to convince myself of ” stories,” kid myself, if I don’t listen to intuition it bugs me, I know something isn’t quite right. I am aware of the ways this ” bugging” can manifest itself, many do not realise that  repressed   feelings, unspoken words, unfinished business, Un acted upon ideas would have those manifest via twitches, addictions, and other. I have learnt to spot those subconscious twitches, moods in others, this other underlying subconscious non verbal language. It comes from years in trying to catch myself from destroying myself, and years of feeling misunderstood,  I really wanted to never put someone in that position by my own attitude.

The world is our mirror we say, maybe we filter things and events to see what matters to us, reflects us at a time being, some may argue that there something higher orchestrating events  when we are ready to see them. This is an area of speculation I am not inclined to get in. Regardless most travels are also an inward travel.

While we live on this planet it will always be some sort of circle, no matter how straight we are going! After all “No matter,  the road is the life  ” says Jack Kerouac.

To travel efficiently we got to travel light in my opinion. A small suitcase, no need to carry the heavy rusty one of the past. What about the souvenirs I hear you say? Depends what souvenirs you are speaking about — the memories, stories, the experience and knowledge, the new pair of eyes those don’t weigh.  They’re only going to fill up the  brain’s cabinets.

My suitcase I will confess is a little big at the moment for I am living in it

home is where i brush my teeth IHome is where i put my books

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Latitude 34 Featured on Tonelit Magazine

Latitude 34 has been featured in Tonelit, an online photography magazine featuring the works of established and upcoming photographers. It wonderfully written by Katie Stretton. Check it out and subscribe! It is definitely one to add to your monthly reader.

On the Same Line – Essay by Katie Stretton

A look at ‘Latitude 34’ by Malika Sqalli

We could say that as human beings we have an almost instinctual habit to attempt to locate ourselves in our surroundings and thus understand our world and our experience a little more through this.

For Malika Sqalli this body of work was arguably conceived in 2010 when, in Los Angeles the light surrounding her seemed curiously familiar and she soon realised that she was at 34°02 latitude. For most of us this piece of information would warrant little more than an acknowledging facial expression before continuing with our travels, however for Sqalli, this realisation has shaped the next few years of her life; latitude 34°02 is the exact same latitude as Rabat, Morocco – the city of her birth. (It was also Sqalli’s 34th year).

Within a week Sqalli was on the road, making what could be described in some ways as a pilgrimage along latitude 34°02, and what was meant to be a small single show turned evolved into an ongoing piece of work with a second chapter aptly titled, ‘I Walk the Line’.

In the opening words of ‘The Spell of the Sensuous’, David Abram says ‘humans are tuned for relationship.’ It is often said that ‘no man is an island’ and yet with the population at the highest it has ever been we find that mental health problems as well as problems of loneliness and disconnection are quite possibly at their highest also.

It is most likely impossible to find anyone who has not at some point wondered what someone on the other side of the world, or the other side of the ocean is doing at any given moment. Whilst we find ourselves divided by these almost incomprehensibly huge areas of water or land there are these pockets of curiosities that are invariably shared. Sqalli not only found this when meeting people whilst travelling but also that her interest in this latitude was a shared one – shared with someone in North Carolina who got in touch with her through this shared curiosity. Jeremy, at 34.02, was exactly across from Rabat.

The spaces that Sqalli explores arguably speak equally of connection and disconnection. The vast swathes of desert, ocean and snow leave the viewer wondering what places and populations they are both separating and linking; an effect heightened by the harsh horizon lines which often cut through the middle of the image like the crosshairs in a pair of binoculars. Sqalli presents us with a unity across her images showing connections in trans-continental triptychs with landscapes often seemingly so interchangeable that many people might pass over them when trying to record landmarks or details of different places for posterity.

dunes03

Dunes01

Dunes02

Mirages 04

The light quality of a place in photographs is often something we take for granted, connecting it with countries or continental areas of the globe. The images featured in ‘Latitude 34°’ use this, perhaps almost naivety, to in a way surprise the viewer by furthering the likenesses along the line; one could almost believe that the images were all made within a much smaller area of the world.

Mt-Hashan

The exploratory nature of Sqalli’s work reminds us of the work of Francis Alÿs, for whom the process of travelling is the work, but with ‘Latitude 34°’ this is only the beginning. The latitude line in question acts as a metaphorical geographical marker in a reference ellipsoid – used because of their relative simplicity in comparison with the uneven and ever changing surface of the earth – as well as engaging the viewer to consider this notion of a metaphorical line.

Our world is governed by lines – physical and metaphorical.  Crossings, roads, queues, paths, corridors and countless others act as components making up part of our daily physical and social interactions. Rob Forbes discussed in 2006 how the lines and shapes presented to and acted by us in our environment  can shape the way we engage with the world and others in it at various different levels – such as personal, local and global. Let us not forget that a key factor in how we experience and formalise time relies on the existence of the partnering longitudinal lines, intersecting the latitudinal. If we begin to consider lines in this way it often runs the risk of becoming a negative comment.

Lines often carry connotations of an order and conformity associated with negativity, but for Sqalli the line, this line in paticular has offered much more. In ‘Latitude 34°’ the line offers a contemplation about similarity, difference and the experiences of these. There is also a powerful sense in which this line and the ‘pilgrimage’ and work which stemmed along this line also offers a sense of adventure and freedom, not just for the viewer but also a personal one for Malika.

All text copyright © Katie Stretton 2013. All rights reserved.

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Home sweet home

One day while I was driving through Australia on Latitude 34 south , a project that had me tracing latitude 34 around the world – I became very tired, exhausted even. The weather was against – I had rain, thunder, storms, floods cold weather all along, even  it was summer. I was getting tired as I had travelled though NZ and part of Australia already –  non stop – chasing time, distance and pictures. I had enough, I wanted to go and sit still, recentre, regenerate, I  wanted to go home.

Then, it hit  home. I cannot go home – for there I have no home to come back to.

Home is the place to come back to Home is a place to come back to – A reference to the childern story LittleThumbling from Charles Perrault who put white stones on the way to find his way back home.

What is home then? what does home really mean? I started asking myself this question. I started asking others this question. I had already started to wonder vaguely about the concept in recent years when I found it increasingly difficult to answer the question where are you from? Do you mean where i was born, what I have on my passport? my parents heritage? where I live? the latter being the most complicated to answer. Perhaps the real question should be where am I going. After home is where one starts from.

Home is where one starts

Home is where one starts from

I was born in Morocco, moved to Paris in my teens, then Montpellier, London and spent a lot of time in the past 4 years in Los Angeles, a place that I now call home, even if I ever only stay there with a tourist visa. This can open the door to the debate of displacement, those who want to live in a place they can’t because they dont have the right passport or born in the right border, and those who are forced to leave home land and only want o come back. I had also given up my “physical” base in London to be able to pursue the project Latitude 34, and travel across both 34th parrallel around the globe. Each time I go back to London or Los Angeles, I have to find a place to live call home, that I then have to leave and take whatever I have with me. This constant move and un- rooting created an unrest, a need for stillness, and longing for the feeling of knowing where you can come back to. Going places, going to the unknown has never been a problem for me quite the contrary, I am of the kind who gets bored easily and always looking for stimulation, looking to break the mirror over and over, looking for new ways of seeing, new experiences, new encounters with all what that brings in terms of understanding the world in a different way. Meeting other cultures, hearing or learning new languages are all ways to encounter new ways others have articulated and organised the world around them.

Most of us refer to the parents home, providing they are still together which leads me  to wonder how do children of broken families refer to childhood home when they are tossed from a parent to another. Home land can also refer to home. Something I started to do lately for some strange reason, my parents being still in Morocco, yet I have not lived with them or in Morocco since my teens. this brings the idea of culture and identity whtin the context of home, and as we all know when we go visit someone in their home, it speaks of their culture, and the various places they have travelled, the cultures they love and from which they may have adopted something.

Self portrait in mosaic

Self portrait in Mosaic -Mosaic to me speaks of a feeling of home and an attachment to Morocco.

Home is a feeling of security, and comfort I was often told. This led me to the painfull realisation that I never felt secure at home as a child, growing up in a dysfunctional mixed culture, cultures that clashed often and where i had great difficulties fitting in household  ( yet who doesnt in some way). Safety, was definitely something I didnt experience, and felt always weary of my parents reaction or my siblings. In a family of three children I was the middle one, the odd one out, the one that spoke out what others didn’t want to hear, wore my heart on my sleeve and got myself in trouble for it was expected of me to never express emotions.  Even in the arms of my mother, were tainted with nausea –  for she smokes and it is something that always came between us. Coming from a european and Moroccan background is an advantageous on many levels but it was also very confusing when trying to find myself. Reading books,painting and ironically making little miniatures ” homes” and building cities was where I would escape and find comfort, along with my cat and parrot pet. On the subject of books, I think home is a place we can have a bookshelf. I cannot recall the number of times I stopped myself from buying a book, or was sad to leave a book behind in the past few years. Since I embarked on Lat 34  keeping costs as low as possible, I have been living off a suitcase since 2010. I can hardly carry that many books in a suitcase and I am no fan of kindle. To me books belong on a bookshelf.

London had felt like home for a while, until 2009, and even I do still have a warm feeling for the first week I go back to London, thanks to the memories but I can no longer see it as my home. Interestingly this feeling had started when I was looking for a house to buy in London. I now spend my time between LA, the place that feels like home, Morocco where culturally I have some attachment but where I can feel like a bird in a cage,  London and the various places across the 34 parrallel. Why does LA feel like home? this question led me to Latitude 34, the light felt familiar, the way the sun hit the objects, the lenghts of the day, the desert and the sea, all this led me to feel something familiar and realise LA and my home town were at Latitude34.02. But thats not all. In Los Angeles, I built a network of very close friends, some I consider family now, and surprisingly only a handful of them are Angelinos. It is a place where I can cycle – and I realised being on my bike is a kind of home. Its a way  to feel the city, feel the space proprioceptively, something that has always been very important to me, this kind of “boditude”. Tamin the space, feeling it like passing through its arteries, feeling its pulse, being one with the place. Something a car doesn’t do, we don’t sweat, get hot or cold in a car, well at least  not in the same way, the car is a shield, a bubble. Yet, paradoxically it can also become a home for some too…. Cycling, I can barely do in Morocco, nor can I go for long hikes by myself to recentre myself. Home is therefore, as Pico Iyer puts it,  more about the soul than the soil, even if there remains a notion of space and place for,  the first one is a prerequisite, whereas the second alone doesn’t suffice to create a sense of home and belonging.

When I grow up

When I grow up

After belonging there is a sense of identity and  is where you become yourself. One of the major reasons why in Morocco I feel unable to. Where home is is also where we shape our identity. However as I discovered lately, on being on the move isnt always such a good thing, unless we have a place to come back to. Recently I have been longing for silence and stillness. Even in Los Angeles, this big city, I have realised I had let go a lot of the routines I had prior to being a nomad, especially the one of meditating and having that moment of stillness and centering. Along with training and exercising outdoors –which is what I used to do everyday in London with kettlebells. I am convinced it helped me root – being close to the ground, nature, earth and the moments of stillness and centering. A base, a home brings that. It’s is therefore a place where to start from and a place to come back to. I am yet to figure out where ….

CoffinBay - at 34 Latitude - Self portrait with Mosaic

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