Beacon Project

Grammar of War - Remnants

by Kaashif Ghanie
with support from Arts Nova Scotia
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Grammar of War - Remnants is a ceramic and audio art installation meant to discuss the racism seen in the persecution, violence, and cultural suppression in recent years to Muslims across the globe.

Grammar of War - Remnants will be 100-150, 5” tall vases made from a specific white earthenware clay that when over fired in a kiln slumps, almost like it has deflated like a balloon. The deflated vases will have a cobalt slip screen printed onto the surfaces depicting various motifs from my family members' prayer rugs. The vases will then be arranged in the dimensions of a rug on the floor during the presentation. The cobalt slip is both a historical reference to Islamic tile and pottery decoration but also to subvert blue and white pottery as a whole. The collapsed vases will represent physical stand-ins for victims of violence due to Islamophobic practices. It denotes the loss of society, culture, family, brothers, and sisters within the Islamic community.

The audio component of this work will be an overall environmental experience for a viewer. I will record myself saying “as-salaam-alaikum” which is the end of prayer that translates to “peace be upon you”. “As-salaam-alaikum” is also a greeting between Muslims. The audio will be a slowed manipulation of the syllables within this first prayer. It will have no beginning or end and play consistently in a space. The sensation the audio will create alongside the fallen vases on the floor will be that of a breath that is held in infinity. Each vase will have lost its internal breath and the audio will be the elongated pause of wishing to stop time before travesty occurs.

A prayer mat is an integral part of culture, identity, and shared memories within a community and household. These mats embody a structure of daily Islamic rituals, because prayers must be completed on clean surfaces. They are more than a mundane object because prayer mats are used 5 times every day. Regions with historical roots in Islam have developed their own specific decorative styles within the context of the mat. For example, during the reign of the Ottoman Empire decorative carpets were inspired by Iznik – Turkish – ceramic tiles. This plays an interesting role for me because the Ottoman Empire rugs were inspired by the Iznik tile designs. Similarly, I am currently using designs from family rugs and re-contextualizing them back into my pottery. The imagery in Islamic prayer rug design varies between geometric or floral patterns and some will have representations of mosques and particularly the iconic Kaaba in Mecca. The designs that I use from my family’s mats are several floral motifs that I rearrange on the surface of the pots.

The title, Grammar of War - Remnants, is a reference to the decorative arts encyclopedia “The Grammar of Ornament” written by Owen Jones in 1856. In using historical decorative aspects of rug imagery and applying them to ceramic vessels I want to connect the cultural aspects of Islamic ornamentation to the ongoing violence towards the Muslim community. The word “Remnants” means “a surviving trace”. In the context of this work it could be interpreted as traces of culture.

Oct 13th
5:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Oct 14th
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Oct 15th
6:00 PM - 11:59 PM
Exhibition Family Friendly Installation Sound/Audio Art Sculpture