Friday, 27 February 2015

An Al-Mutanabbi Street Collaboration

The Presence and Absence of the Light

I participated in the Artists Book section of ‘Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here’  Project with a book called ‘Absence’ and when the call came out for the printmaking project called ‘Absence and Presence’ I was delighted to have the opportunity to explore this idea of the destruction 
of culture further.

I spoke to an artist friend, Jack Oudyn, with whom I  have collaborated on projects in the past, and who also intensely supports the rights of freedom of speech and democracy.  We felt that if we collaborated on the print we would be making a statement about support and solidarity between artists, particularly our fellow artists under threat in Iraq.  After much thought and discussions about freedom of speech, around the time of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, France, we started work on the print.  Since that time there have also been reports of the destruction and burning of books in Mosul in Iraq.

The print is a combination of two prints, the first is a linocut of an Islamic screen which has openings to let in the light of the world, culture and literature, and others that are blocked by an aggressive arrow pointed shape moving across the screen.

The second digital print of abstract asemic writing underlies the first print.  It also contains the jumbled letters of the words Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, but only fragments of the print are visible through the openings in the screen, and these letters do not appear in their entirety in the displayed print.

The composite print has a 3D element in that the openings in part of the screen have shutters (or perhaps book covers) that need to be opened when the print is on display.

Five of the edition of  ten prints of  The Presence and Absence of the Light are on their way to the United Kingdom and the United States for inclusion in the 'Absence and Presence' exhibitions held as part of the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here Project.


Sue Marrazzo said...

WAY cool

rObfOs said...

Looks fabulous Helen (and Jack). Great explanation of the meaning behind the work & beautifully executed.

Fiona Dempster said...

I just love this work Helen - such a beautiful, thoughtful and meaningful gathering of both of your work - elegant and beautifully expressed. Bravo!

susan bowers said...

Can't believe I didn't comment on this piece you and Jack have done. So simple. So strong and eloquent. I love the design and the way you brought this together. Am also jealous that your prints are done and mine are still in my head! Have till July though ......