It is most difficult for the native to explain the thing she knows most deeply, because it is intertwined in her daily experience. It has been for centuries. This type of knowing, exists in a pre-thought state. Like the hint of cardamom her Teta adds to the Turkish coffee which is not necessary to mention. “Why?” you ask, “I had not thought about it,” Teta might answer.
It is most difficult for the novice to explain the things that she senses but are hidden from her, like an invisible thread. She can taste the uniqueness of the coffee, she can feel her heart fill with warmth, but she cannot clearly attribute what it is that leads to that. The cardamom has been pre-mixed with the coffee grounds, and the recipe has not been written anywhere. The crime scene leaves no trace. Even if she were to narrow down the source of her wonder to the coffee itself, it is possible that it’s not the coffee at all, but a secret the coffee maker knows but does not tell and cannot tell.
Between what the native knows but cannot observe, and what the novice observes but cannot know, there is a golden gap, this is where Leena camps, amongst the social scientist, artists and wonderers.
I am Leena and I am of Arab descent. I’m local to NYC, London, Saudi and wherever my passion calls.
I am the native novice, endlessly curious in understanding the world so that I may feel part of it. I am an artist, a writer, a dancer and social scientist. My practice involves excavating treasures of the past that guide me to reimagine the possibilities of the future. I can be found dancing tango, creating a performance piece or painting the wing of a butterfly as discovered in Teta’s coffee cup.
I conducted my undergraduate studies at Bates College and my graduate study at Harvard in the Mind Brain and Education program where I focused on studying the impact of experiential stories on behaviour.
Currently I’m at NYU where I’m bringing my stories to life through art and film.