Hajj over the centuries explained through artworks


Hajj over the centuries explained through artworks
Maisa al Qassimi,programmes manager at Guggenheim Abu Dhabi with artists Mohammad Kazem and Abdulnasser Gharem

Abu Dhabi - The discussion focused on the interaction between historical and contemporary artworks currently on display at the Hajj exhibition


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Sat 3 Mar 2018, 7:48 PM

Last updated: Sat 3 Mar 2018, 9:53 PM

Visual artists have explained the stories of the stunning objects that lie at the heart of the Hajj: Memories of a Journey exhibition at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
In a recent talk entitled 'Every Object Tells a Story', Arab artists and visual arts practitioners Mohammad Kazem and Abdulnasser Gharem, discussed how their commissioned artworks encapsulate the essence of the shared human experiences and the pilgrimage settings and landscapes during Hajj.
"The two contemporary artworks presented in the exhibition reflect different aspects of the environment of this journey to Mecca and Medina. Spaces is not a traditional artwork, the series of photographs reflects the open space around the Grand Mosque, including the surrounding buildings, a public area that is used by pilgrims from various nationalities, cultures, traditions, and customs," explained Kazem.
"Though only showing 5 per cent of each building, they are easily recognisable and resonate with audiences who have undertaken the Hajj pilgrimage. This modern perspective complements the historical aspects of the exhibition. My other artwork Directions is an extension of a previous series, and uses the GPS coordinates of locations in the UAE towards Mecca, as an indication of the performance of prayers in the grand mosque from anywhere."
The discussion, which was the second session of the Memories of a Journey Talks Program being hosted by the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre in collaboration with the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, focused on the interaction between the historical and contemporary artworks currently on display at the Hajj exhibition.
Explaining his commissioned artworks, Abdulnasser Gharem said the Medina film project documents the shared human experiences of more than 2 billion Muslims from around the world during the month of Ramadan, and the faithful moments that that this Holy Month brings with it - embodying the guiding values and principles of harmony and serenity in Islam.
"Through this project, we wanted to emphasise these noble values shared by the believers and show the true spirit of Islam as a religion that grants freedom and offers safety and security across the world," said Gharem.
"The film connects you directly to an ancient and enchanted journey that tells a story about the series of historical events cherished in the mind of every Muslim."
The final talk in the series will be held on March 19, with an extensive discussion hosted on Manuscripts, Illumination Art and Calligraphy by Venetia Porter, Curator of Islamic and Contemporary Middle East Art from the British Museum and will feature other UAE dignitaries as they delve into the historical significance of Arabic calligraphy in Islamic manuscripts.
People will be able to take a closer look at the significant role that artists across the Islamic world have played in using calligraphy to transform writings into unique pieces of art, as showcased by some of unique objects and artefacts on display at the exhibition.
The Hajj: Memories of a Journey exhibition celebrates the rich legacy of the spiritual journey of Hajj to the Sacred House of God in Mecca, organised to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, will remain open to the public until March 19, 2018.

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