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yusser slik

Intention of Return

Intention of Return

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Writing from her position as an Iraqi born into exile, Yusser Salih attempts to find a way to collectively navigate the loss and mourning of her homeland Iraq. How can we tend to the exilic wound in a way that does not bring us back to the nation-state and its grand narratives which had led us to our exile in the first place? She explores the neighbour and the kleicha, as respective markers of home and land. 

Intention of Return نية العودة/Relatives of Estrangement گرايب الغربة is a hybrid publication, it is a booklet, a ritual of remembrance, a theoretical and biographical text, a work of autotheory. It is a kleicha delivery accompanied by an intention. 

Kleicha, the edible marker of عيد [eid] and celebration can be traced to the Sumerian Qullupu, which is also a pastry filled with date paste and pressed into a mould, or قالب [qalab]. Ancient Mesopotamians made Qullupu, and many other types of decorated pastries to celebrate the Goddess Ishtar during the first new moon of spring which marks her spring festival. Since then, Qullupu has persisted, showing up with different names, around different moon related festivities. Continuing to be made with the intention of celebrating and sharing. 

I want us to continue this ritual, with the added intention of return. Qullupu is derived from the Semitic roots kll and kly, meaning ‘to complete’, and kull, ‘whole’; and so Kleicha continues to carry the seed of this potential to complete, this potential to turn غرب [gharb] into قرب [qorb]. To turn our exile and estrangement into closeness.

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On November 2nd 2021, members of Sarmad came together in Yusser’s family home to bake an estimated 180 kleichas. Each kleicha is, by use of the 3d printed kleicha mould, imprinted with the intention of turning the gharb into qorb. On the 12th of November, the first batch of the publication was distributed by Yusser amongst her neighbours in exile as a practice of homeland fostering and as a ritual of return.

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