sassuolo - arab dialogs
SASSUOLO AND MODENA ARE THE EPICENTER OF CERAMIC PRODUCTION IN EUROPE. MANY ARAB PEOPLE FROM NORTHERN AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST ARE WORKING IN THESE GIGANTIC CERAMIC FACTORIES AS "EXTRACOMMUNITARI" - PEOPLE FROM OUTSIDE THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY - ALSO REFERED TO AS "ISLAMISTI" - ISLAMISTS.
I WAS INVITED BY CLAUDIA ZANFI AND MARCO SCOTINI FOR THIS EXHIBITION/EVENT: GOING PUBLIC ORGANIZED IN CONJUNCTIONWITH THE CITY OF SASSUOLO.
MANY THANKS GO TO ALL THE ARABIC PARTICIPANTS FROM TUNESIA, MAROCCO, AND PALESTINA, MOSTLY CERAMIC WORKERS WORKING AND LIVING UNDER RATHER HARD CONDITIONS IN SASSUOLO. THANKS ALSO TO MY GREAT ASSISTANTS: SIYAM MOHSEN FROM PALESTINA, NOW LIVING NEAR SASSUOLO AND SILVANO RUTIGLIANO FROM SASSUOLO.
SPECIAL THANKS ALSO TO FABRIZIO ZANFI WITH HIS TILE FACTORY VIVA PROVIDING GENEROUSLY US WITH THEIR FINE MATERIALS AND TO DARIO BRUGIONI AND HIS FORME 2000 WHO LET US USE HIS MAGIC CERAMIC HIGHWAY OVENS AS WELL AS HIS GENEROUS ASSISTANCE WITH COLORS, LOGISTICS AND SPACE.
My concept for this body of works consists in the exchange of ideas and opinions about the crisis in Iraq and the Middle East with Arab workers here in Sassuolo. I try to create a dialog platform to express other people’s thinking and feelings about politics as well as about their personal and collective history. Dominant and typical U.S.news material concerning the Arab world were presented to participants first. I asked them, to respond in Arabic. With their agreement the results have been painted on ceramic tiles.
Tiles are often used in public places in the Arab world. They are indefinitely durable and don't fade though at the same time, they are very fragile and can be easily broken. They also are the site of early writings. They are similar to stones and carry as such meaning in the current Middle East conflict.
Some of the graphic elements were painted by me, others were painted by my assistants Sylvano and Siyam. You will recognize the difference quickly since I do not have any training or experience in brush practices.
Each person participating in the dialog is asked to give his/her own response, opinion and position seeing these media fragments usually associated with US-news reporting. Encouraging my partners to express themselves freely in regards to politics and its relationship to powerful media interfaces is the main part of my conceptual goal.
These news elements seem to be selling, branding, justifying, authenticating and even cheerleading news content and in this case a varity of conflicts that very strongly devides internatinal public opinions and the current US goverment under George.W Bush.
Therefore, I am interested in recontextualizing this tv-material differently, using it in relationship with people who are directly affected by these confrontations asking them to "write back."
All the sentences written in Arabic are entirely conceived by my dialog partners and don't show any input by me!
In now way did I try to influence or censor these responses. They are entirely their views and statements.
I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY MY DIALOG PARTNERS ARE NOT AUTOMATICALLY SHARED BY ME. I DO NOT TAKE ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHAT MY DIALOG PARTNERS EXPRESS.
THIS WORK IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A PLATTFORM FOR ANTI-AMERICANISM OR ANTI-SEMITISM BUT FOR DIALOG AND OPPOSING VIEWS EXPRESSED BY PEOPLE MOST CONCERNED ABOUT IT.
for publication: some images have hi resolution images attached: just click image and a 3.2 mb image is available.
PRODUCTION WITH PRODUCTION DRAWINGS
All the photos have been made with explicite permission of the participants. Given the very stressful situation for Arabs at the current moment of history there is a big level of distrust and paranoia which let many people decide NO on photos and full identifications. Almost everybody expressed his/her concerns about negative consequences and joke were flying about "going to prison" for their writing or their suspicion of whether I am working for the CIA or MOSSAD etc. etc.
Adil Assouss is a ceramic worker in Sassuolo and is from Casablanca, Morocco.
This young man is from Tunesia. I don' t want to identify him, since he advocates war against the USA. We did not use this sentence because we don't want to incite hatred or violence. We used the image otherwise and Siyam Moshen wrote another response. see next page: Siyam also refused to transcribe his text.
click image to download large 3.2 mb
drawing by Mohamed, no further indications given.
click image to get high resolution image:
drawing by Mohamed, no further indications given.
here is also a quicktime video that shows his writing.
cllick image to downlaad large image:
Aziz Addelhakim, working in a ceramic factory in Sassuolo.
click to download higres photo
Silvano and me (background)
Siyam and me
the tiles are running on an industrial belt through the firing facility.
fired tile, 1100 degree centigrade: these tiles are color - permanent but fragile.
Housing units for guest workers.
free housing for the artist - my two Arabic roomates were on vacation.