Home is Where Mom is-Gozo/Malta

"Home is Where Mom is" tries to explore mothers' dreams in Gozo. Mothers don't necessarily need to be females. Love.

An activity by
partnering with Europe Grand Central, Roberto Cimetta Fund, Valletta European Capital of Culture

Explores the borders

Mothers Mothers
Arabic Language Maltese
Language Love
Love God
God Mother
Mother Food
Food Love


I want to understand the notion of the unconditional giving manifested by mothers of all types, colors, shapes and forms. My mother has been my inspiration for this. She has been my root to earth, my forever-enthusiast and my rock. With the homelessness that is within my existence, conscious and subconscious, Mama has been my home. Both my mother and father carry Palestine with them. The Palestine that they can no longer visit. My dad left Palestine after the Setback of 1967 to continue his education from Kuwait via distance learning in Beirut and Cairo. My mother’s family left Palestine in the 50’s to Kuwait. My grandfather had found a job and worked in the army’s publishing sector in Kuwait and my mom was only 10 months-old. She grew up and married there, and practically had all her memories in Kuwait with frequent visits to Palestine at that time. After the second Gulf War- when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, we had to relocate to Jordan as Jordanian citizens in 1990, looking for a safer place to be. Luckily we had a Jordanian passport to give us an option of a new life. Not all Palestinians have Jordanian passports. I grew up in Jordan. I was 8 years-old in 1990. We changed many homes along the years, so did my parents. Mom was always there. Before school, after school, as children and adults, as we traveled and came back. And as homeless as I could ever be, she’s still home. Putting aside all her dreams to make sure her children and their dreams come true first. Like many mothers, just as many as those who simply didn’t. In my pursuit of what home means and where mothers’ dreams are came “Home is Where Mom is”. My passion is to speak to as many mother figures possible in different spots of the world. To eventually have this dictionary of mothers and their dreams.





Physical places vary, Barcelona where it first started had a mixed group of mothers. Ages, locations, professions, economic status, backgrounds and nationalities also varied. Tunis village in Fayoum in Egypt was the second stop for Home is Where Mom is and Fayoum is the poorest governorate in Egypt. It's rural and it's difficult for people to find jobs. Some have alternatively created ones for themselves and their families. Gozo is more like the country side of Malta. Very touristic but also has a full life of its own. It has businesses, shops, restaurants and people trying to raise their children in a more relaxed place, away from the traffic and craziness of the cosmopolitan aspirations Malta has.


It is quite ambitious to say my audience is everyone, but because everyone has experienced love, either by giving it or taking it. Some give it more than take it, some care a little bit more than others and this is when mother figures, in my opinion, are in action. I think everybody wants to see what love looks like.

How the audience/participants were reached or discovered

Random encounters that happen due to unpremeditated walks and trips, also through set up meetings with organisations, local councils, churches and football/band clubs.

How it was done

Bordr stories


To explore the dreams, and since dreams are so intangible and nonphysical for some, the mothers and I try to visualise them together through a photograph where they assemble the required elements together to produce something they will cherish and perhaps go back to.


Bordr Stories

As part of this activity, Bordr stories were booked.

View more stories posted with this activity

Endless and beautiful conversations with 7 mother figures and their photographic portraits that will be exhibited in the Spring of 2017 in Gozo, Malta

How it went

Main lessons learned

It was a success in my opinion, in the way mothers wanted to share their lives and memories and the only challenge was that I would’ve loved to have more time there.


People’s genuine interest and love for each other and life to say the least, their openness was the dynamo of my journey…


Valletta 2018 Foundation- Victoria Martha Pace, Ann Laenen, Margerita Pule, Marc Buhagiar, Sarah Borg
Roberto Cimetta Fund- Angie Cotte, Krystel Khoury
Europe Grand Centra- Marcus Haraldsson, Christo de Klerk
The Ministry for Gozo

Activity Timeline


  • Home is Where Mom is-research

    Looking for stories in every corner, Victoria from Valletta 2018 foundation and Ann Laenen helped a lot in this process by either setting up meetings or introducing me to mother figures.

  • Home is Where Mom is-Production

    The overlapping between Research and Production was interesting because it always provided me with new angles to tackle and more questions to ask when filming, photographing and writing

  • Home is Where Mom is-Post production

    The overlap between production and post is rather exhausting but kind of important to make sure I have what I need before I leave the island back to Jordan

18 comments on “Home is Where Mom is-Gozo/Malta

  1. 0 January 4, 2017 9:42 am

    Thank you! This work touched my heart.

    • Deema Shahin January 8, 2017 11:54 am

      Thank you Helena! I’m grateful for you for taking the time to check the work out…

  2. Marcus Haraldsson January 6, 2017 3:37 pm

    This is truly beautiful. I love the personal connection to the topic and how so many of us can relate to the unfulfilled dreams of mothers. And the specifics (and thereby general sense) of your story.

    Much inspiring!Reference

    • Deema Shahin January 8, 2017 11:57 am

      Thank you Marcus! It is spectacular that you can feel a lot of what this is all about….

  3. Marcus Haraldsson January 6, 2017 3:41 pm

    But this Activity deals with Gozo, no?

    Are the projects in Barcelona and Fayoum not separate Activities with their own lives and dynamics? (although linked to, and inspired by each other..)

    I´m mush curious to also read about your Activities in these places, but here maybe it gets confusing? Unless you see all three projects as one big Activity (?)Reference

    • Deema Shahin January 8, 2017 12:05 pm

      Yes, what I have shared so far is only concerning Gozo/Malta. “Home is Where Mom is” was in Barcelona and Fayoum/Egypt too. It definitely is always seeking and reaching out to mothers’ dreams, wherever it travels, but cities’/villages’ characters are always part of the equation, they influence in many ways a collective and thus the resulting artwork…in the end the unspoken particularity of space and time is part of the big dream of “Home is Where Mom is”….A book of love, a dictionary that includes all these different and similar stories.. as far as how I can portray them here in Global Grand Central, they are three linked activities…closely linked…a story that goes on and evolves…I don’t see them put in the same would definitely be confusing with the current format, don’t you think?

  4. Marcus Haraldsson January 6, 2017 3:43 pm

    Beautiful! At least, lets hope everyone has a sense of love in their lives.. And, also, whether they have an active relationship or not, everyone does have a mother…

    (in terms of the sliders, this could mean “many” and “unknown” or?)Reference

    • Deema Shahin January 8, 2017 12:11 pm

      If I got your question right, the concept of motherhood is rather becoming more figurative in Gozo, it wasn’t in the beginning of the idea in Barcelona and Fayoum…A mother could be a friend a sibling or a father or some other figure that affects my existence socially in the way a mother does, with her care, love and bringing together people and ideas…so in terms of sliders…it could be many mothers or no mothers perhaps? It’s unfortunate and I do hope we all have our own versions of real and figurative mothers in our lives…did I get you right?

  5. Marcus Haraldsson January 6, 2017 3:46 pm

    This is interesting!

    Are your encounters random? Or do you set them up with a distinct thought in mind? (your project does seem very elaborate, so I doubt that your work is driven solely by chance..) how do you choose your circumstances, based on what factors?

    And how do you build trust with your participants? For what reasons? And who “owns” the stories?Reference

    • Deema Shahin January 8, 2017 1:03 pm

      Some of the encounters are random, yet very connected to my present state, they could continue to build something that could be part of the artwork in a way or another…one encounter of the mothers I met in Gozo was random: I fell while running and went to the pharmacy and she happened to be a nurse who just so spontaneously offered her advice as to how I should treat my many wounds and I couldn’t but be so intrigued to introduce myself and ask her if I could know more about her and for her to be part of “Home is Where Mom is”….and She Said Yes! I am very curious about chance, probability to find what were are looking for when we constantly thinking about it, or not! So Chance is always allowed a portion in everything I do and it is always welcomed…but of course this will take a lifetime, so there is definitely the other part that takes for one to “live” somewhere and observe to learn and understand how to go about a certain space…The church is very present in the villages of Gozo so some meetings were arranged through the priest of Gharb village for instance or Gharb local counsel..the football club or the band club in villages are also good places to start from and meet people…this information was also provided by Valletta 2018 Foundation Regional Coordinator in Gozo, she’s from the community and understands the whereabouts and her guidance was valuable in this process…sometimes I meet the “mother” in the premise where she is most active i.e. the church, other times in the place she works at or at her home…it really depends for a first get together on the personality of the mother and where she feels most comfortable and then we carry it from there…Trust comes with time, and I try to see the mothers and spend time with them talking about everything, their dreams, fears, the world, where I come from, where they come from…there’s always something in common to talk about…or at least this is why why we both decide to take on this journey together! There’s some mutual liking that a lot is based on later on…Why do I want them to trust me and why do they want to take on this journey are both great questions and answering them is part of the process of all of this.. I believe that all human beings aspire to relate, to belong, to like and be liked, to love and be loved, my being this interested stranger is just as intriguing as I am interested to know more about the “mothers” that I think allows for this to be shaped…I believe both parties own the “story”…except for that I get to present it, it would definitely be worthwhile to see the mothers versions of the “story”.

  6. Marcus Haraldsson January 6, 2017 3:48 pm

    Interesting! How does this process work? For how long time? How do yo arrive at this photograph and visualization? And what does it entail? How long is the process? And how does the interviews work?

    How do you use film and writing in this process?

    Do you also work with other methods to arrive at the dreams of mothers?Reference

    • Deema Shahin January 8, 2017 1:18 pm

      The process would vary for sure depending on the circumstances of the “mother” and schedule..Research and meeting mothers took almost half of the time of me being in Gozo…I always make sure to see the mothers in different times and over a good span of total stay was of 6 weeks and research and first meet ups with mothers were overlapping for three weeks, between setup meetings and random encounters which also overlapped production (filming and/or photographing)….in the end that also overlapped the post production (editing of videos and photographs) while still living the “circumstance”…still breathing the air of Gozo and living the public transportation effects of commuting between Gozo and Malta…living the storms that prevent the ferry to berth to get me back to Gozo…living all the circumstances that made Gozo “home” for me….although my mom is not there! Interviews are usually scheduled on the second or third time we meet (the mother and I), some of the questions could be repeated because the more time I spend with the mother the more comfortable she/he is….interviews are sometime filmed, other times just audio-recorded…all of that material helps me pinpoint the focus of the mother’s interest for further questions or to help the mother envision the dream photo…which we work on in another session….the films taken of mothers (which is most of the material I gather) helps me envision the text as well as put together a film of the whole journey…

  7. Marcus Haraldsson January 6, 2017 3:51 pm

    Such great stories to get lost in! Poetic, concrete. Full of life. And a diary of your Gozo life.

    I also get very curious of the stories of the mothers that you work with! Will these be presented in the spring of 2017 (along with the exhibition?) can we also see them here?Reference

    • Deema Shahin January 8, 2017 1:06 pm

      I am happy the stories appeal to you! The stories will be presented in the spring of 2017 in text, photographs and video. I’m still working on the three elements to complement each other and I will definitely post them here once exhibited.

  8. Marcus Haraldsson January 6, 2017 3:54 pm

    Amazing that you feel that it went so well!

    What made it such a success?

    Was it random chance, or deliberate work? How did you do it right? What have you learned from previous projects, and how did you apply those lessons here? It is (in my experience) rare to achieve such a success, so I get curious what we can learn from you! And I am happy to see this!Reference

    • Deema Shahin January 8, 2017 1:33 pm

      It did go well! I think that I related to Gozitan and Maltese mothers deeply…They also related to me…and perhaps this is my indicator for success…perhaps my sole indicator! I understand that in “projects” or how we define “projects” there is no such thing as 100% success…I also think that based on the different indicators adopted, success is always relative…What I learned from the previous editions of “Home is Where Mom is” is that it is important to share part of me just as I ask people to share part of their lives with me, also I learned that being flexible is important as long as one can still see the essence of what he’s doing…the essence that represents the “why”…why do I do this…

  9. Marcus Haraldsson January 6, 2017 4:40 pm


    What is it we are hearing on the sound files? Is it from Gozo? Or inspiration from somewhere else?Reference

    • Deema Shahin January 8, 2017 1:26 pm

      The sounds are taken from Marsalforn, where I stayed for 4 weeks…the sound of the church bells that rang every 15 minutes, it was a reminder of the world outside when I was staying in and working for continuous hours and it was good company in solitude and solidarity…it also sounded different from the church bells in Gharb village that I stayed in for 2 weeks…for me that was a revelation! The second sound file is of the angry sea in a storm, I lived just right by the beach of Marsalforn…The sea was my other companion in this journey…in addition to all the friends I made in the neighborhood as I ran and picked up the newspaper and shopped for my groceries and bought my vegetables from vegetable van…

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