gabriela freid

The Ruach of Apartment 2D
Video, 13:11

artist statement

When I think of my grandmothers one bedroom apartment in Kew Gardens, Queens: smell, texture, sound, taste, remain static. When my grandfather passed, the space remained static, when my grandmother passed this past year, it remained static. The apartment demands my psyche to perpetually project a fossilized memory onto an inanimate stratosphere. Or perhaps it is my own demand, fearful to one day not remember the feeling of static familiarity. The apartment resists its torn up carpeted floors, painted walls, and absent furnishings and rather serves as a vessel, romanticizing my intimacy with the abject, and my attunement to the anthropomorphized lives of my inanimate surroundings.

I wonder how my body has felt so ardently convinced of my presence in experiencing the lives of my grandparents: growing up in Poland, in Palestine, my fathers market stall, my fathers tobacco and butcher shop, a train to La Vuv, being gifted my first pair of sandals, riding bikes on the roadless mounds of sand, an amusing bewilderment at the families that had two floor houses, Russian soldiers warning my family that the Germans were coming, vegetables from Jordan, leaving my family with Haim to go off to fight in the war, my sister learning how to play piano, being a tomboy, being 14 and disillusioned, unable to fathom the mass genocide, meeting each other at a night club in Palestine where the military brigade would assimilate themselves back into some narrative of normalized youth, meeting him at the train station equipped with smuggled chocolates, fighting with the Polish underground, changing my last name to sound more British and less German, discovering brother Haim on a kibbutz right next door, dating, marrying, not wanting him to fight again, moving to America, waking up at 5 am to work at Peter Pan Bakery, giving birth, buying her flowers every Friday, my mother in the grass in front of the apartment complex, climbing the stairs to the second floor apartment 2D, my grandfather surprising my mother with a pair of green velvet shoes, my grandmother thinking my grandfather is passive (when in fact he has PTSD), my mothers room which later become the dining room, my mother going to public school and than Ya Shiva, meeting my father at The Pines, getting married, having kids, passover, sitting on grandpas lap tapping my shoulder as I look behind him pointing to the ceiling as if someone from above had extended their arm down, hearing the planes from Laguardia airport, feeling the carpeted floors between my toes, eating the stale candy in the bowl on the coffee table, my grandfather passing, my grandmother watching hallmark movies and old B&W Hollywood films, going to the 99 cents store, my grandmother trying to give me her old jewelry and knick-knacks, questioning why I am not wearing the gold chai that she gave me, questioning why I don't call her enough, calling her and her hearing aid not working, my mother sorting through stacks of my grandmothers mail, my grandmother telling me that I lost weight and that my brother gained, my grandmother passing, revisiting her apartment revamped for sale.

Fear is a biological consequence of fight or flight, whereas safety is culturally and socially conditioned. Perhaps this may inform why I feel that I’ve absorbed an intangibly (and almost irrational) familiarity with my grandparents own psychological attachments to memories that do not belong to me. Maybe this is why we hoard sentimental objects.Yet sentimentality can never exist in a universal physical form, but the feeling of attachment based on a human comprehension of our relative psychological ecosystems may be able to. My biggest task has been not only in activating a conditioned psychological intuition within my connection to my process of creation, but also in the aftermath, as other people begin to experience my work as an audience. How do I tell the narrative of familiarity, in a world where it is dangerous to label universalisms, without fully telling my own story verbatim, leaving my own narrative up to imagination and contestation but resurrecting a feeling of personal nostalgia.