Descriptions of Wanderings (2007)
South Square Centre, Bradford, UK
researcher and poet illuminated by the divine light of passion
of comprehension through preparation of black and golden signs
of the concealed wisdom of ancient manuscripts,
impenetrable for those uninitiated into the art of memory and interpretation;
his journeys to the East in the search of the mystical tent,
a wandering tabernacle
which was said to contain the incredible cotton sheets
marked by the imprints of the prophetic sweating body and the sublime saliva;
which he found and returned to London
where in 1969 he drew this map on the backside of a souvenir picture and
where soon after, the rapture of his awakening brought death upon him.
Yuhannah Mirza Ben-David Dawud (1885-1969) was an Iranian born British collector and researcher of Persian manuscripts. During the later years of his life he obsessively cut and reassembled them. For more than two years my work is informed by the activities and the life story of this person. “Part II: Descriptions of Wanderings” is a continuation of “Part I: Rendering of Writings”, an installation in Goldsmiths College, London in 2004.
The drawing on the map – stains and suffusions of dirt, grease, spilled liquids – the traces of human corporeal existence, the map of a lived life. Walls, floors, roofs and on them – layers of wallpaper, carpets, vinyl, curtains, bedspreads, upholstery, roof felt – the shrouds of the house, which is the exterior inclusive body of the tenant, even though the tenants are changing, moving in and out (this state is of a special interest for me, as I am familiar with the long-lasting reality of a rented accommodation). The concealed, un-noticeable, intimate trace, the imprint left by the tenant on the house and by the house on the tenant. This imprint appears on the surface of the house – the second skin. Surface is understood here in a wide sense as a space of intimate contact, not necessarily of a pleasant nature.
Tent – an image which simultaneously introduces the fragility, frailness and temporality of a dwelling place, a home, and its imperishable idea. A wandering tabernacle. Its soft walls, a worn net of the consciousness in which pieces, shreds of recollections are entangled.
Tent is a permanently temporal dwelling. I would like to refer in my tent, in its form and construction, to the medieval Turkish military tents – constructions where the soft textile replaces stone. The Turkish tent in itself suggests another, mobile way of living, in which what is rendered habitable is not a concrete fixed spot of space (a house), but a whole portion of geographical plane, surface, which demands a map for its designation and navigation of the peregrination of a mobile home. The hi/story of this wandering is told by the remnants of the mobile dwelling place, the debris left behind. Subtle decorative medallions appear as traces of mould, black curly letters as grain of decaying asphalt, colourful illustrations as assembly of worn shreds of floor vinyl, royal golden seals as stains of spilled tea.
The collection of debris of construction in itself can appear as a sort of portrait, a testimony, collective sediment of memory of the local people. The action of re-assembling becomes narration and interpretation of this memory.