Three of my works, two electric ones and a textile piece, have gone into private and public collections recently, so I found myself wondering if I’d ever see them again.
Certainly the Joni Mitchell-inspired On a Rock Floating Through Space, 2017 I will see in my lifetime, as the not-for-profit Maraya Arts Centre in Sharjah has a fantastic record of displaying its collection and finding new ways for the public and emerging artists to engage with it.
It was on the first floor of Maraya (Level 1 is a drop-in study centre) that I first met encountered youths from all of the Emirates gathering in one place. That is an achievement, when you know the country well. Below is On a Rock Floating Through Space, 2017, I’m infamously remiss at archiving my work, these photos don’t do justice to the textures and colours of the frame of coloured sand and aerosol.
Joni Mitchell’s song lyrics from Hejira, are the inspiration for this work. I heard them as a teen, and they’ve remained with me since, surfacing from time to time. I regard Joni Mitchell as one of three of the greatest song lyricists of our time. The title of the song Hejira, and its eponymous album, comes from the Arabic word for journey. The song describes a long car ride Mitchell made from the border of Canada to Los Angeles, and the realisations that came to her in that snowy, highway-lined limbo:
We all come and go unknown
Each so deep and superficial between the forceps and the stone
Well I looked at the granite markers,
Those tributes to finality, eternity
And then I looked at myself here
Chicken scratching for a piece of immortality
We’re only particles of change I know, I know
We’re just orbiting around the sun
But how can I have that point of view
When I’m bound and tight to someone.
Being those particles of change, that immense and simultaneously minute perspective, is what draws me to Hejira. Considering that we are in fact, on a rock floating through space, how trivial do the worries of the day to day become? Our finite lives seem and how small. For all our human ambition.
When we opened the exhibition Stitches to Save 9 With, in which these works featured, arts writer and curator Mahnaz Fancy held a public Q&A with me, and we listened to the tracks that inspired several of the works. After that the supreme cellist Clara Asuaje joined me for an improv piece, in reference to the a scene in the film and its eponymous song Electric Dreams.