When you strip down visual art to its constituent parts – paintings, photographs, material installations, movies, concrete skyscrapers, embroidered textiles.. – they all seem to speak the same fundamental language. Just like mathematics is the foundation of all sciences, writing is the bedrock of visible artistic form. A word is more than just a movement with the hand, or a stroke of characters on a keyboard. It is a visual expression of human interaction honed by memory and experience. It is the most basic visualization of emotion and thought nurtured by generations of culture and civilization. When a word is breathed on paper – just like a painter’s brush on canvas – a calligraphic shape soon becomes surreal. The only difference is that with writing, we all have access to this imaginary world. For every true writer is an artist and every true artist is a writer. What do you think?
“The history of this world has unfolded from a stone cast many times into the sea only to find its way to shore again until the world in its entirety was filled with endless grains of sand each speaking of an age and time that once befell. What stories can we learn from playing with the sand. What stories can we tell from drawing shapes in dust and molding castles, moats, and gates with towers high. For sand is the essence of life. In every grain we can hear the cries of the millions that have perished before us and in every grain the joyous laughter of the millions that will be born. Cordoba was no ordinary sand castle in the playground of this world.”
I am currently working on a new book that tells the story of Cordoba an ancient city in medieval Spain. Cordoba has so much to teach us about coexistence, tolerenace and love. Yet it remains forgotten in our modern accounts of history. More than 1000 years ago and for a brief hundred years or so, it was the largest and most extravagant city in the world where people from all walks of life lived together in harmony – until Cordoba was destroyed. I hope to share with you some bits and pieces of the story along the way.
In the beautiful steamy haze floating above my morning coffee I sat there on a narrow balcony and stared at the old alleyways and streets that spoke to me of many memories and tales. The bitter brew of the finest Arabic coffee grains soaking in my mouth painted every image in my mind with the darkest shades of brown until the city melted into something from the past, a past that I could not recall. Emperors came and emperors left but here we have remained for thousands of years rejoicing with the bounties of our generous land and sea withstanding every conqueror, conquering every journeying heart until Cordoba with every piece of stone and brick and wooden stall became a sleeping giant taking refuge beneath the gentle lashes of a history that chose to spare us all.