立場新聞 Stand News

Fez, Morocco.

2015/9/18 — 14:23

Fez is an assault on the senses.

Contemporary political discourse abuses war as metaphor. The effect is an aura of constant danger, of invisible but ubiquitous foes, an anxiety that results in the relinquishing of the people’s power. From George W. Bush’s War on Terror to China’s recent War on Corruption, we now habitually describe disagreement as combats, and processes of resolution in terms of military strategies. For over a decade now, we have seen how these rhetorical tropes and metaphors often perform the horrific realities they refer to into being.

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This is the entrance to the Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque and Religious College, where the silenced bell-lamp is hung. Non-Muslims are not allowed in. Our local fixer sneaked my recording devices into the mosque underneath his shirt, and with it, he recorded the important Friday midday prayer, in the same room where the bell lamp is now hung.

This is the entrance to the Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque and Religious College, where the silenced bell-lamp is hung. Non-Muslims are not allowed in. Our local fixer sneaked my recording devices into the mosque underneath his shirt, and with it, he recorded the important Friday midday prayer, in the same room where the bell lamp is now hung.

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I came to Fez to visit a “silenced” bell. The bell originally came from the city of Gibraltar, and was a war loot of prince Abu Malik, son of Abu al-Hasan Ali sultan of Morocco, who conquered the then Spanish-occupied coastal region in 1333. In the hand of the Marinid King, the bell was transformed into the perfect metaphor for the Islamic world’s triumph over Christianity. The bell’s tongue was removed. Its body became the core of a chandelier, which was installed at the prayer hall of Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque and Religious College – the world’s oldest university. Not only was the musical instrument defaced and silenced, it became a decorative ornament that emits not sound but flickering light. Today, Al-Qarawiyyin is off-limit for non-Muslims. Our local fixer sneaked my recording devices into the mosque underneath his shirt, and with it, he recorded the important Friday midday prayer, in the same room where the bell lamp is now hung.

There are five prayer calls each day, at which time one hears the most amazing multi-directional and multi-channel polyphony, emitting from the numerous mosques in the old town (medina) of Fez. I recorded each of the five prayer calls at a different spot in and near the medina, from the rooftop of the now-abandoned Aben Danan Synagogue, to the top of the ruins of the old city wall.

I went on many a rooftops, like this one, to record the call-for-prayer that came from all corners of the medina (old city).

I went on many a rooftops, like this one, to record the call-for-prayer that came from all corners of the medina (old city).

The sound installation component of the work is also taking shape in my head. It must involve some sort of multi-node timed-operation, a sort of spatialized dissonance in unison. Just last week, Claire Bishop published an article in e-flux that discusses how artist-led-research leads often to a sort of inertia, an indifferent research-has-taken-place statement, but exerts no real opinions. I tend to agree. In his epistle James makes the statement “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). I think the reverse is also true: works without faith – a devotion to a belief – is cynicism.

 

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Artist website - www.thismusicisfalse.com
Project website - www.bmw-art-journey.com
BMW Facebook page - www.facebook.com/bmw

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