BIN MATAR HOUSE
MAHMOUD DARWISH’S MURAL
30 June 2012
Memory of the Place
4:00pm to 7:00pm
- Luc Martinez
History of the project
Mahmoud Darwish was invited to speak at the Theatre de l’Odéon in Paris a few months before his death. He recited some of his poems in Arabic – and, in particular, the last pages of “Mural” – in front of a packed theater. This memorable evening was recorded in full and is the basis of the recordings used in this installation. At the same time, the poet learnt of the project to build an interactive sound art installation to display photographic prints taken from the “Mural” manuscript. He was attracted by this ambitious project, as its content and the message echoed the very ancient tradition of “Mou’allaqât.”
Mahmoud Darwish, who always destroyed his original manuscripts once they had been published, agreed to write out the last lines of “Mural” again for this project, which is now
being displayed at the Bin Matar House.
The content and form of visual interpretation of Mahmoud Darwish’s MURAL echoes the very ancient tradition of “Mou’allaqât,” deeply rooted in the history of the Arabian Peninsula and the neighbouring regions.
In the great poetry festivals of the pre-Islamic period, the desert poets challenged each other to veritable oratory duels in front of a select audience. The name Moudhahhabât (Gilded Ones) or Mou’allaqât (Hanging Ones) comes from the fact that the most beautiful of all the poems was chosen to be inscribed in golden letters and hung on the Ka’ba.
A wall at the cutting-edge of technology
The installation at the Bin Matar House measures over 4 meters in length and 2 meters in height. Clad in ultra-high performance and photosensitive concrete tiles, the mosaic
wall provides the base for an immense photographic print of the last lines of the original manuscript of the poem “Mural.” The wall reacts to the presence of visitors through magnetic sensors and sound transducers that have been poured into the concrete tiles. When a visitor simply touches one of the specific zones, the wall itself replays excerpts from the poem in Mahmoud Darwish’s original voice. Excerpts and soundscapes are replayed randomly, making each interaction with the wall truly unique.