Medieval Maps, Waters of Life, Waters of Death

Medieval Maps, Waters of Life, Waters of Death

above: 10th c. Persian Gulf Map; detail

Medieval Maps, Waters of Life, Waters of Death, 2016-2017

Waters of Life, Waters of Death, 2016-2017, showcases the silhouettes of the medieval maps of four major bodies of water in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The pieces are accompanied by a video projection of the moving waves. The movements of the waves coming to the shore stand as a metaphor for the plight of the Syrian and Afghan refugees who frequently cross these waters on small, rickety smuggler boats to reach Europe, even at the cost of possibly being drowned. These bodies of water were historically sources of life and prosperity, and they facilitated exchanges of goods and ideas across the Middle East and Europe. Juxtaposing today’s waters against their images in historical times, I allude to the ironic contrast between today’s socio-economic and political circumstances and those of the historic times. The silhouettes are modeled after maps in The Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for the Eyes by an 11th c. Arab cartographer and Traditions of Countries by Estakhri, a 10th c. Persian geographer and traveler.

Waters of Life, Waters of Death, 2016
The Caspian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and Bosphorus Strait
Wood panels and screws, 22” x 94”and video projection, 12:10

Waters of Life, Waters of Death, 2016
The Caspian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and Bosphorus Strait
Wood panels and screws, 22” x 94”and video projection, 12:10
Installation View at the exhibition: Stateless, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, New Bedford, MA


Black Water, 2018, wood panels, paint and paper, 45” x 75″
The Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman maps, after masalik al-mamalik “Traditions of Countries” manuscript, 10th c, by Estakhri


Mapping a Gulf: The Persian Gulf and Tour of The Persian Gulf Album, 2016

Mapping a Gulf: The Persian Gulf Map and Tour of The Persian Gulf Album prints explore the history of territorial boundaries of the Persian Gulf regions through medieval maps of the masalik al-mamalik “Traditions of Countries” manuscript and the photographic album, Tour of the Persian Gulf, 1916-18. Tour of the Persian Gulf is the photographic album of a British explorer, Rev. Edwin Aubrey Storrs-Fox, who resided in the area to drill oil. In these prints, I am looking at how the body of water, otherwise known as the Persian Gulf, was portrayed in medieval Persian maps, which was drawn by Estakhri, the 10th c. Persian cartographer. The Persian Gulf is an important and strategic body of water, which lies between Iran to the northeast and the Arabian Peninsula to the southwest. I convert the Persian Gulf maps and the human figures of the Tour of the Persian Gulf photos into black silhouettes. By juxtaposing the black silhouettes that emerge from both the album and the maps, I allude to the politicized aspect of such mappings and recordings of the Gulf and aim to create a visual history of this strategic body of water. In these prints, the color black symbolizes oil and the Persian Gulf water is portrayed as both black and turquoise colors as a result.

Mapping a Gulf: The Persian Gulf Map and Tour of The Persian Gulf Album, 2016, silkscreen on paper, each 30″x 22″


Waterlines Exhibtion


Exhibition View: Waterlines, New Museum Los Gatos, Los Gatos, CA, Oct 2017-March 2018

Research:

4 photos from the Album

Tour of The Persian Gulf Album, Rev. Edwin Aubrey Storrs-Fox, 1916-18, Gulf regions, Iran
Courtesy of Qatar Digital Library

final-all-maps-together-8x12

The Caspian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and Bosphorus Strait
The Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for the Eyes, by an unknown 11th c. Arab cartographer
and the masalik al-mamalik “Traditions of Countries” manuscript, 10th c, by Estakhri

two gulf maps

The Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman maps, The Islamic Document Museum
masalik al-mamalik “Traditions of Countries” manuscript, 10th c, by Estakhri
Tehran, Iran, January 2016

The-Gulf-Map-smaller-size

The Islamic Document Museum
masalik al-mamalik “Traditions of Countries” manuscript
Tehran, Iran, January 2016