Nadine Al Koudsi | Those Who Dance on the Staircase

Country of origin: Syria
Project location: Syria, Lebanon
Program: Arab Documentary Photography Program
Year: 2019

The loss of connection to our home country is a fundamental loss - it is the loss of ourselves. This is why our desire to return home may be understood as the ultimate nostalgia, the end of our voyage, the healing of our wounds.

This project explores the different dimensions of nostalgia within Syrians currently living in Lebanon. It’s the sum of our conversations, the exploration of how we struggle with the desire to return home - or not to - and the many doubts that come along with it. It is a hint of the complexity of one’s decision and aims to raise the question of what happens next.

It is often insinuated that returning to our native land is a natural progression, but this is problematic. It negates our individuality and pictures us as a homogeneous group with one solution - to return home. However, we each had our different reasons for leaving, and today we stand at different stages in life. The way we process nostalgia and our sense of belonging affects whether we seek to return or not. It is a deeply personal quest.

With the global push for the return of Syrians ‘back home,’ what will be the consequences when the power of choice is taken away and host countries officially begin forced repatriation? Nostalgia comes from two Greek words; nostos means “return home,” and algos means “pain.” Is it the pain of being away from home or is it the pain of returning home?