They’re So Happy I’m here! 2015-2017

They’re So Happy I’m here!

Live-Streamed Performance. Halte exhibition, 2019. photo credit Peter Cox.

In this project, I was exploring the rooms in chain hotels. I explored the sense of déjà vu created by their recurring sameness and the eerie feeling of comfort embedded in moments of disorientation. Being in a hotel room resembled being in a floating capsule detached from any geographical, historical, or social context. This detachment was interestingly unburdening. The hotel room became a metaphoric refuge in a chaotic world of escalating voluntary and forced displacement. It was a refuge created by corporate money and managed by business laws, yet one that promised a home-like experience.

I stayed in ten different chain hotels in Chicago. I chose hotels that had branches in the Middle East, especially in Palestine and Jordan, as I aimed to establish connections to the place I came from. I performed the role of the guest and interacted with the hospitality industry. It was an interaction that, for the most part, lacked human contact – one mediated through the text placed in the rooms or through the hotel’s digital applications, which enabled me to choose my desired room from a floor plan before I arrived at the hotel, and to self-check in without using the front desk. In each room, I spent 21 straight hours, starting from the check-in time and ending at the check-out time the next day. During my solitude in the hotel room, I watched TV, took baths, read, and replied to emails. I simply existed there, occupying the time and space.

In the hotel rooms, I wrote short pieces. The uncanny resemblance between the hotel rooms and the sense of disorientation I felt created moments of teleportation. To teleport is to move between two specific points while skipping the physical distance between them. In my text, my mind teleported to previous moments in bubble spaces in Palestine or Jordan. Other realities disrupted those moments.

I live-streamed a performance piece in which I recited pieces of the text that I had written in other hotel rooms. The camera in the hotel room faced the door. When I was not in the room, the screen remained off; the work was activated only when I was in the hotel room.

Text Sample