Salem Al-Mansoori and Sherri Wasserman both moved to New York City to attend the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts; Sherri arrived a decade earlier. The two met when Sherri started working with Mo Ogrodnik and NYU Abu Dhabi, traveling back and forth to the UAE. After Salem began at ITP, the two realized that they're undergoing the same learning process, the same internalization, of two homes—their learned landscapes reversed. They decided to create a set of letters to each other, of their home landscapes, using the elements through which they communicate best (often through Instagram and Twitter)—photos and just a little text.
When in the UAE (and particularly Abu Dhabi), I find that spaces vacillate; the interiors of superblocks contain such dense ecologies, but the views from the windows of skyscrapers reveal a landscape that endlessly expands for as far as (and beyond what) the eye can see.
NYC, I've learned, resides within the details of the tight and the small. If there are portals - extensions - to other worlds hidden within the fabric of city, they're found in the reflections that the spaces hold of one another. Each environment brings another--the open to the closed, the past to the present, the desert to the street. When I spend time in the UAE I bring my myriad of stories from home, packed away like Russian nesting dolls placed within me. I learned how to do this from the city.
You asked for my stories. I give them to you as clues that tell you where they reside within the landscape, within short distance of a location within which I know that you know well. I hope that you discover my tales; I hope that you find your own. There are windows everywhere, and I promise you that the dense isolation of NYC can be broken open by the tiniest thing.
Photographs and text—Salem Al-Mansoori