View Master slides 1960-80 / 1980-2000 and 2000-2020
Images taken from Makkah’s most widely circulated pilgrim keepsake. Made in China since the pre-1960s they have been shipped over in their thousands along the same silk route that has been central to cultural interaction from East to West since 206 BCE. These same View Finders, once bought on Al Khalil Road in Makkah, are then disseminated through the hands of the pilgrims to every corner of the world. The View Finders and their images, are not only visual portals to a city that bristles under the weight of its own dramatic symbolism but a reflection of a site revered by millions created with the specific task of triggering fantasies of a pilgrimage to Makkah and all it implies. As objects, the View Finders embody these dreams, whilst the collection of images, once released from the limitations of their intended form, are transformed. They become not only social documentation but pertinent and poignant signifiers of specific times and places, drawing on collective history, iconography and memory, of a site that is at once the most visited yet the most exclusive in the world.
The basic function of Arabic subtitles in a foreign film is translation. The subtitle works within the context of the film as a narration to the story as well as an explanation of the action that accompanies it. As such, the impact of the picture precedes that of the subtitle and creates the framework for it.
When removed from the context of the film, and re-exported with the image of the film still, the function of the subtitle is transformed from confirming meaning to actually producing it. It is re-born as a unique source of content, with no past or alternative function.
Borders, flags and other symbols of belonging and identity continuously infuse Ayman Yossri’s oeuvre. For the last 10 years, the artist has been constructing and deconstructing the Palestinian flag, reflecting on a shifting understanding of identity and exile, in a process of constant redefinitions.
Ayman belongs nowhere. His Palestinian identity is fragmented and has lost its form and meaning. His flags are, at times, devoid of colours, reflective metal sheets shaped by the sheer force of his body, showing, in the various phases of unfolding, the effort of the human being to break free from the narrow stereotypes which are imposed on him. At other instances, these flags are pieces of paper and recycled objects, hessian bags painted red, all reflecting on a flag ‘empty’ of ideals, representing the politics of national identity in a globalized world.
The work 'Re-build' is made out of a piece of a thin striped sponge mattress, it looks as if it has been used and re-used again and again. Its corners are cut out, making it look like an architectural plan, a basic floor plan for a house perhaps. A cement brick is laid out in one of the corners sideways making it look almost like a bed. The work is amongst the most recent body of sculptural works that artist Hazem Harb has been working on, which depicts the intimacy between architectural ruins, the body and violence. The cement brick denotes infrastructure, or rather the building material of interior walls and facades: infrastructural elements in our utmost private and daily lives, which supposedly gives shelter, support and protection that is of course until they collapse. The binding together of such material with the frailty of the mattress is fraught with the binding together of the human and the architectural. The flimsy mattress invokes sleep, perhaps an eternal sleep induced by the slab-like brick signaling human traces and thus an affinity between architecture and the body, a ruined architectural form signifies a ruined body. Hazem foregrounds the alienating feeling of our utmost homely and intimate surroundings turning into nightmarish life threatening structures, where architecture becomes the crushing weight of violence against our bodies. Hazem disrupts our trust in architecture and infrastructure. He strips bare both the brick, usually hidden behind painted walls, and the thinness of the mattress, which is usually cushioned in layers and cloth, revealing an architecture of vulnerability.
Nasser Al Salem’s training as an architect has taught him that all objects and creation has a premeditated system in place. This system maps out how components are fused together, how they function, and how then they effect its aesthetical composition.
His work as a calligrapher is also ruled by a system of geometric principles that allow this art an aesthetical, geometrical and spiritual composition, the latter as an extension of himself.
His work fuses a blueprint of calligraphy depicting a verse from the Holy Quran, [It is] The Work of Allah , Who Perfected All Things, [Chapter Al Naml, Verse 88] -- with the notion that all creation has a perfected blueprint in place; mapped out by the creator Himself. He imagines the insight gained, and the state a person would be in, should he observe the blueprint of all creation.
Ayman Yossri Daydban
Nasser Al Salem
Location / Grand Palais , Avenue Winston Churchill , 75008 Paris, France