Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Yesterday my project on a temporary structure, based in an historical movement in art or architecture switched from a Weaver bird’s nest to a Bedouin tent. The nomadic culture, which is in decline, reaches from North Africa to Western Asia. Their tents can be complex, held together with pulleys and ropes have up to five rooms, with movable partitions of varying decorative value. Traditionally the women would weave the tent or parts of the tent on giant looms staked to the ground, up to twenty-five feet long. Strips would be sown together to create the tent, with the most complex weavings on the partitions facing guest and men’s meeting areas. More tents are using purchased white canvas for all but the best partitions and some decorative strips on the walls.
I bought wood for stakes and fabric to make a 2x4 yard tent with low walls about 45” high, with a peaked roof. I have almost finished my decorative strip on with silkscreen prints of a Widows grid or weave. It’s eight yards long on an Army green cloth. But I’m wondering if just the strip or banner of cloth might be more effective than the whole tent. We talked Monday in class about the dematerialized object. Making a tent is literally material, 18 yards of material. Might it be more effective to have the staked poles and just a movable banner?
What I’m trying to capture is the loss and the ability to persevere in the face of that loss. It is a loss of culture, time, and of family. In Iraq, there are up to 5 million Bedouin people, and in some places there were up to 300 tortured killings a day of men in some areas by the militias after the US invasion. Many of the remaining men joined tribal militias themselves to fight the killing. What of the women? One can imagine what unwritten horrors they have witnessed or lived through.