The Islamic Art Exhibit is set to begin their second annual exhibition of Muslim artists at multiple venues around the bay area. Get the details here.
Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (ICCNC).
1433 Madison Street, Oakland Ca 94612
Friday, April 1st, 6pm to 9pm
It turns out that my original submission, titled “One Sweet Revolt,” will not be included in the exhibition because the organizers felt that it contradicted the exhibition’s theme of “Legacy of the Quran: Message of Peace.” Particularly it was images of a military nature, such as Afghan women target practicing, that they felt may be controversial, or convey a political message. I’m of the opinion that peace is a political message, and that it is only given definition by it’s opposite. As a compromise I submitted a second piece, titled “Tahrir (Liberation),” that will be shown. All of these can be viewed in the slide show on the left. Here are the descriptions:
One Sweet Revolt
enhanced collage on canvas
14″ x 14″ (3 panels)
The goal is chaos. Images and headlines are ripped from their contexts. Blocks of text are cut into pieces, breaking grammar and syntax, and reassembled almost randomly. When I select source material I have a topic in mind, in this case the political turmoil in the Middle East, but I am careful not to consciously direct any messages. The result is a soup of the words and images, but with no narrative.
As a Muslim, I don’t believe that pure chaos exists. So, I see apparent chaos, especially the patterns that emerge, as an opportunity to witness the signs of God. The modern world, especially the information age, is a most pregnant manifestation of dazzling disorder. We are bombarded with it constantly, everyday. The conscious mind seeks out patterns, but much of the impact is more subconscious. I’m trying to strike the viewer there, by presenting something like a subconscious snapshot of the chaos in the mind. Any message the viewer interprets in the composition is as likely to be a reflection of their own mind as of mine.
enhanced collage on canvas
24″ x 32″
In the 14th century Islamic scholar Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah wrote that “The beauty of a matter is not known until we know its opposite.” In other words it is those besieged by war who best know the value of peace. It is the victims of censorship who most cherish free expression. And it is those who have toiled under tyranny who best comprehend liberation.
The discord we see in the world is here symbolized by the disjointed images, removed from their contexts and reassembled almost randomly. The result has no intended narrative, leaving the viewer to make interpretations, and draw their own conclusions.
In reality, all apparent disorder possesses a natural harmonizing order, here symbolized by the mosaic pattern. All strife is an opportunity for the emergence of spontaneous order.
In his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King Jr. makes a distinction between negative peace, which he defines as, “the absence of tension” and positive peace, defined as “the presence of justice.” He says that the greatest stumbling block on the stride toward freedom is not the extremist, but the moderate who is more devoted to “order” and avoiding tension than to the struggle for justice necessary for liberation to emerge.
Islamic Cultural Centre of Northern California (ICCNC)
1433 Madison Street, Oakland, CA
April 1 to 30
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library
150 East San Fernando Street, San Jose, CA
May 1 to 29
Muslim Community Association (MCA)
3003 Scott Boulevard, Santa Clara, CA
June 3 to 8
2400 Stevenson Boulevard, Fremont, CA
San Ramon Library
100 Montgomery St, San Ramon, CA
September 18 to October 1
400 Old Bernal Avenue, Pleasanton, CA
October 2 to 23
13650 Saratoga Avenue, Saratoga, CA
November & December