Orient Express: Family Business (Series), 2014-2018

Family Business: Orient Express, Series 2014- 2018 

Dafna Maimon’s Family Business: Orient Express, is a large-scale project consisting of immersive installations, two single-channel videos, and a series of performances that were inspired by an autobiographical and micro-historical research into a family-owned business: Finland’s first kebab and falafel restaurant, Orient Express, opened by Maimon’s Israeli father in 1985. Located in the Forum shopping mall in Helsinki’s city center, the restaurant introduced Finns to the delicacies of the Middle East. In 1986, Maimon’s father produced a high-budget video advertisement for Orient Express which used his own exoticness in a high-paced narrative to market kebabs in Finland. Starting from this video-relic, along with photographic and architectural records, as well as Maimon’s childhood memories  that embody the perspective of an immigrant experience – the artist reworked the advert and reimagined the restaurant to exist in a world beyond capital.

The Family Business: Orient Express, series shifts and uses different elements of the narrative in each iteration, while assimilating and being in dialogue with the sites it was reproduced within. The reworking of the artist’s family autobiography in relation to site-specific situations enabled intimate and critical spaces to emerge between strangers, crossing over cultures and different timeframes. Likewise, the image of a “family business” reveals how personal and capital economies are always inherently intertwined and looks at these two structures: that of the family and that of the business, as analogies for each other.