WORKSHOP with Maria Khatchadourian: Making Halva

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Halva, Halwa or Halvah, is a sweet dessert whose origins are widely debated; scholars suggest it dates back to 3000 BCE consisting of three ingredients, oil, flour and sugar. Deep in my memories, Halvah is associated with Sunday mornings where my mother used to prepare this dish as a breakfast using flour, butter and equal parts of water and sugar boiled with cinnamon sticks, that she carefully poured on top of the roasted flour mix. This simple three ingredients recipe with earthy flavours has different variations in the Middle East, South Asia, the Caucasus, and the Balkans.

This workshop will be an expansion of HKU alumna Maria Khatchadourian’s ongoing practice and research in the realm of installation art in relation to the landscapes and spaces we inhabit, metaphorically and physically. In a demography where war and conflicts are like the wind always shifting, moving from one region to the other, how can we re-imagine from within a sense of shelter, a sense of ‘home’ and how our losses morph and manifest in relation to our geographical and psychological topologies.

While guiding you through the steps of Halva making, Maria will poetically map an inter-generational history of loss and displacement, through an oral and visual construction of the itinerary of physical movement — from Armenia to Syria, Lebanon, and the Netherlands. Throughout the session we will discuss notions of home and the loss of control over an ever-changing lived-environment that finds displacement in habits that are passed from one generation to another.

While my eyes are forced to keep getting accustomed to foreign landscapes, my tongue to unfamiliar languages, making Halva becomes a way to work through the visual repertoire of unspoken histories. What is certain is that despite estranged eyes and numb tongues, this ritual always feels like home.

This event is presented by Kunstinstituut Melly in collaboration with HKU University of the Arts Utrecht Master Scenography, as part of the series ALUMNI PRESENT.

What to prepare?
Participants to the workshop will receive an ingredients list several days in advance.

About Maria Khatchadourian
Maria Khatchadourian (b.1982, Beirut) is a scenographer and visual artist, currently living in Amsterdam. She graduated in 2018 from the HKU, with a Master in fine art and design with a focus on scenographic practices in the realm of installation art. Displacement, loss, ruins and the spaces we inhabit (mental and physical) are central in her practice-based research. Rocks, glass, stone, foam and other reclaimed materials from construction sites, often overlap and overlay in a three-dimensional, spatial assemblage with images, moving and still, as she investigates the fragility of the beings and the times we live in. Currently her work focuses on mapping the emotional and ecological wounds and how to translate them into site-responsive installations.