When Pharell Williams released his “Happy” single followed by the stunningly beautiful “24 hours of Happy“, who could have expected it to have influenced hundreds of covers from virtually all corners of the world? Well, people in the Middle East and North Africa were no exception.
Motherhood (2007) الأمومة - Iraqi Artist WASSMA AL AGHA وسماء الأغا
As some of you have mentioned earlier with regards to the Klimt-esque nature of Wassma’s “Yearning and Meetingشوق و لقاء” painting, here she also clearly adopts the confined subject approach employed heavily in Gustav Klimt’s paintings.
In these sculptures that have been shaped intentionally as a Maze, Al Salem seeks to relay the message of verse 2 from Surat Al Talaq. The verse highlights that fear and obedience of God الله will eventually lead the person towards finding the solution or the correct path for their troubles and needs. Nasser’s employment of the maze structure here emphasizes the need to actually do work and reflect upon oneself’s actions in order to acquire the guidance she or he might have been seeking in their lives, even at moments of loss and disorientation that might hinder ones mind and soul. Nasser stress’s that even though this work is inspired by a verse from the Quran, which is an integral aspect of its message, the other side of is a universal plea of self-reflection, action, and work through our journey of life.
Part of larger project of paintings and installations, in this short video the artist is seen writing down notes of behaviours, feelings, or actions that are often associated with individual freedom; a concept he disagrees with by maintaing that our society has obliged us into these behaviours/feelings masked as choice when in reality they might have been prescribed:
I know that I can choose, but I can not confirm that I am free, for my choices are always confined to conditions beyond my will.
What is interesting about his approach to this existential concern is that fleeting period in the video between flipping to a new page and the writing of a new note, in which the blank page by itself could emphasize a minute sense of freedom; constrained freedom. In addition, one might wonder if the underlined final note of death could highlight the sole and only form of freedom, or is it still also a masked belief of freedom much like the rest of ones choices?