In Which Language Do We Dream?

Rich Wiles, Great Britain

I first met Rami in 2017, the year he arrived in the UK with his wife Ruba and their children, Mustapha, Yazan and Hanan. Later that year Ruba gave birth to their youngest daughter, Rayan.
The family had been forced to flee their home in Homs due to the ongoing conflict in 2012. They fled to Lebanon where they remained amidst difficult circumstances until finally being offered a place on the British government’s resettlement program in 2017.
I had only returned to the UK with my family in 2016 after many years living in Palestine. I had eventually got married in Palestine, and we had our first daughter there. Now back in the UK, I was supporting my wife as she began to navigate the UK’s immigration system.
Rami and I seemed to have some things in common. We soon became friends and our two families also became close. We were all stuck somewhere between homes, cultures and languages.
In Which Language Do We Dream? began in this context as a documentary-style project, but it has since developed into a deeply collaborative and co-authored body of work. The project includes re-worked family archive photographs that the family brought with them to the UK. These photographs were originally lost when the family was forced to flee Syria, but a member of Rami and Ruba’s extended family was able to return to their house and found this collection of printed memories lying on the ground. She collected them and took them with her when she soon also fled into Lebanon, where she found Rami and Ruba and reunited them with all that remained of their visual family history.
Rami and Ruba’s large extended family have now been displaced across several countries.
In Which Language Do We Dream? touches on issues of displacement, resettlement, identity and home, but fundamentally it is a work about relationships and family.

Discover more: Shortlist 2021