A huge buzz was created awhile ago when Lebanese artist Zena el Khalil displayed her rotating 4-meter-tall sculpture “A’ Salaam Alaykum: Peace Be Upon You” – famous with ‘Allah Disco‘ in London ‘s latest art fairs ‘Art 13’ . The interactive sculptural installation displays the word “Allah” in Arabic letters, made of glass mirror tiles reflects the lights and environment around it, including the viewer.
The artist portrays a generation living with war as a constant presence, always aware that it might start again any time, but still longing for peace, and hoping to get back to normality. In her statement, El Khalil said:
“Dancing, it seems, has become a form of healing. Dancing, it seems, helps us to forget why we turned against each other. As our bodies move together in small dark spaces, we begin to realize that flesh is flesh and we are all the same. As euphoria takes over, we try to forget why we used religion to kill. Why we found each other so different.I am searching for a God that transcends boundaries. I invite you to come and dance. To forget what tears us apart and remember what brings us together. To attempt forgiveness.”
I think the entire buzz & artwork is overrated … With all do respect!
Aside from the enormous production of artwork, the concept is okay and installation is vivid… When you separate them! I can’t see the link between ‘calling people to dance – in the name of peace‘ and portraying the word ‘Allah’ like a flipped disco stick with music playing & festive lights. My problem is the outcome and performance of the work itself; I believe El Khalil could have found a million way to cascade her peaceful message without provocation and take into consideration that civil wars ‘seems’ to be caused religious reasons, but it is purely political and blind fellowship of politicians and party-leaders.
Whether its Islam or Christianity or Buddisim, all religions call for peace; but the problem lays in some people who represent religion and take advantage of it to control others. Those seek authority, fales leadership and fame should be the ones’ we shed lights on their hidden – yet obvious agendas and not pay attention to their hideosity. Instead, the artist choose a common symbol of spirituality in all religions ‘God’ , and by calling people to dance to it, she disrespect it.
Now the artwork itself -as I said is vivid, beautiful- but lost it because of the execution. Artists master a communication mean; through their artwork, they don’t only present an art-deco but also depict reality, shocking or untold stories, creating a wake up call that crosses borders. If artists misuse the mean, viewers will interpret the message wrongly.
Why the buzz on El Khalel installation is ‘overrated’? Because I personally see there is nothing new; nor the idea or work. Its another huge glass sculpture of the word ‘Allah’ & another anti-war concept. Two things made is standout: first emphasizing a common idea or case in mass production and second the contradicting messages, which mislead people rather than putting them on right path, or at least open their eyes on the truth.
What I’m trying to say is artists must be more aware of what they are capable of creating and cascading, plus forming a method of awareness is not easy. If you are using art to send messages, be genuine in what & how you do so or it will end up like any medium with ‘hidden agenda’.