2010 - Mihrab at Art Loop Open




COLLABORATION with HALE EKINCI - Art Loop Open 2010 by Chicago Artists' Coalition Chicago Loop Alliance Block 37 - Chicago, IL




Special thanks to Patrick Lichty for all his help making this possible.

3 projections, pray mat and surround sound.

Mihrab is a collaborative video installation that points to the parallel nature of material and spiritual realms in the contemporary context, where the omnipresence of consumerism and religion, accompanied by their oppressive nature has become almost impossible to separate. In order to depict this, we are using digital means that simulate the experience of spirituality, where the line between material and intangible has become permeable.

In Islam, one seeking a connection with the spiritual realm turns towards a 'mihrab' to pray in a mosque, which is in the shape of a door but is essentially a decoration alluding to a door through which spiritual fulfillment will take place, where the mind travels through to the spiritual realm (1). However, the door in its material form always remains closed. In order to reach this realm, one performs namaz (a performative prayer ritual) on pray mat five times a day.

In the contemporary context, consumerism has become a way to experience both the material and quasi-spiritual worlds to achieve fulfillment. The connection an individual has to the realms of material or spiritual has been reduced to rituals of consumerism. This is highly emblematic in the American car culture. In this installation-performance, a garage door opens, alludes to the car beginning its journey to a purchase, a light shines and produces the illusion of connection to an outside world, the gateway to consumer experience of the average American. Every performance of this ritual delivers a fleeting satisfaction, that in reality is consumerism's oppression, which adopts the tactics of religious thought control. Only now, the door opens but the access to the spiritual remains elusive, just as in the experience of the mihrab.

Mihrab is composed of three video projections, a pray mat and surround sound. We project an image of a garage door closed that opens randomly. The image of the garage door is accompanied by two other videos of human silhouettes projected on two sidewalls. These full-bodied figures perform namaz (Islamic prayer ritual) in a non-synchronized fashion. The images are projected at the same level as the pray mat that is present in the space. In the background, one would be able to hear the whispering sounds of the prayers, along with the sounds created by their movements. In addition to these visceral sounds, some decipherable English words expressing desire and wish will be inserted at certain points in time. We also have a live performance to accompany the piece.

1- http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-050599-103655/unrestricted/ch16.pdf