In the Arabian Peninsula, fourteen centuries ago, a large village named Okaz situated near Mecca was known in the region as the rendezvous for jousting poets. Each year, these linguistically shrewd men would meet at a commercial and artistic fair where they would engage in a competition of elegance and poetic flare. It is reported that following these battles of wits, the victorious poems were embroidered onto textiles, which would then be suspended from the walls of the Kaaba; hence their name, Mu’allaqat, ‘suspended poems’. It is said that several thousand poems have adorned the walls of the Kaaba but only seven poems remained on the sacred walls and it was these poems that gave classical Arabic some of its rules and structure. The Mu’allaqat are the story of anonymous men belonging to the proverbial tradition who thus influenced the future by simply, yet eloquently, retelling the events in their everyday lives. In the spirit of the proverbial tradition, I try to retell my time and my social reality, and endeavors to influence the future. A proverb is usually defined as a wise saying or message which can be universally understood. I believe there is nothing more malleable than a proverb, not in its formulation but rather in its meaning. It expresses the truth of an experience and these experiences are as varied as the human race. In light of this, I permit myself to interpret the proverbial tradition as an invitation to universal self-questioning and self-reflection. The messages I use not only create bridges between people who recognize themselves in a specific collective imaginary, but they also weave connections between the trivial reality from which they issue and different forms of metaphysical understandings.
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