Cultural Initiatives in North Africa and the Middle East
"To pray or not to pray", "Being inside or outside of the mosque": this seems to be the dilemma that falsely divides Muslims between good and bad believers. More than ever, the contemporary era is engulfed in this opposition which leads to hints of hatred and oftentimes tragic consequences between those who want to impose their vision of religion and those who reject any form of compulsory belief; between those who simply have faith and those who use it as an ideology; between those who conceive the belief as a ritual and those who define it as a spirituality above all.
The exhibition "All the World's a Mosque" examines the possible breakaway of the sacred space, and the probable sacralisation of the secular space. The mosque would be everywhere, and faith a matter of the heart rather than an enclosed space.
Let there be no mistake about the title. "All the World's a Mosque" is not an attempt to annex the entire earth to a rite or to a Muslim space. Nor is it a proselytizing work. It aims to make of the world a single place of prayer dedicated to the God of all!
It is a way out of narrow spaces and into an open space dedicated to spirituality. It is a way to desecrate closed spaces and turn them into open, diverse and lively spaces.
If the world were a mosque, what takes place today would not occur. There would not be so much hatred, war and conflict. The mosque is first and foremost a place of peace and mediation. It restores the social bond into its stronger and more communicative form. It makes way to the voice of God, which can only be a voice of love for humankind.
If the world were a mosque, we would hear its prayers, which would be above all a consecration of humankind. We would see a flood of those who carry in their hearts a love for their neighbor. Those with enough goodness to support the weak and unfortunate, enough tolerance to accept believers and unbelievers, those who belong or do not belong to them.
It is also, beyond the physical space of worship, a way to make a man of faith an appeal to all men. A way of breaking walls and narrow spaces and turning them into an open air space dedicated to spirituality. One way to desecrate closed spaces and turn them into open spaces of life, encounter and diversity.
Islam has no clergy. Nor mediators. And we can in all places, including outside the mosque, establish a connection with the divine. One can pray on sand or on stone, in a rich house or on a mat on the ground. Any place on earth can be a mosque and prayer is wherever there is the Face of God.
To say this is to affirm and recover the greatness and tolerance of Islam, its "secular" side, which makes Muslims free and responsible being; and which made religion a matter between God and his creature. It is restoring the values that this religion carries: freedom of belief, freedom of movement, and freedom of the relationship with God. This is the "philosophical" bet of the exhibition "The Whole World's a Mosque": an exhibition conceived as an installation in the form of 22 containers, which, assembled piece by piece, forms simultaneously an artistic space a place of worship. Set in the heart of Carthage, between the archaeological ruins of the Roman Empire and close to the ancient theater, this facility is knowingly between yesterday and today, between History and contemporary era. While rooted in "the past" of our Carthaginian roots, it opens up to a "future" of conscience, sensitive to individual liberties and concerned about trust in humankind and faith in God. The contrast between the metallic material and the ancient stone, between the industrial building and the ruins of ancient times, is indeed intentional.
Just as much as the scenography that borrows more from popular theater than the traditional solemnity of the sacred space. Finally, the omnipresence and the impersonality of the physical container recall the absence of that which is nonetheless essential, namely faith in its most intangible and personal way.
Resorting to kitsch products, bright surfaces, textures and other interactive installations, "All the World's a Mosque" engages the view and work of 22 artists from North Africa and the Middle East. All artists are asked to appeal to the five senses in the same way that Islam calls upon five pillars. Through their performances, they are meant to invite the visitors on a journey of pursuit, whose goal is not so much to ask "where" we pray, but more importantly, "why" we pray?
That is if the design such as the scenography of the exhibition follows the idea of the pilgrimage, every path taken being a way to "connect" to others, each step a way to seek the spiritual in us. Just like this roaming pursuit for the essential, the exhibition will follow its own "pilgrimage" too, being called to depart and resurrect in other places and in different cities.
Adel Abidin (Iraq)
Raja Aissa (Tunisia)
Ammar Al Attar (United Arab Emirates)
Nasser Al Salem (Saudi Arabia)
Rashed Al Shahai (Bahrain)
Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanon)
Lina Ben Rejeb (Tunisia)
Omar Bey (Tunisia)
Zoulikha Bouabdellah (Algeria)
Mounir Fatmi (Morocco)
Aicha Filali (Tunisia)
Nicene Kossentini (Tunisia)
Nadia Kaabi-Linke (Tunisia)
Maha Malluh (Saudi Arabia)
Moataz Nasr (Egypt)
Mahmoud Obaidi (Iraq)
Yazid Oulab (Algeria)
Wael Shawky (Egypt)
Haythem Zakaria (Tunisia)