Entries in portal (1)

Thursday
May052016

Jazirat Al Hamra: A Portal in Time

 

The sun is beating down as I make my way from one building to the next. I reach into my bag for the scarf I had packed earlier that day and use this as a form of protection from the heat.

Stepping carefully in the deserted village of Jazirat al Hamra, I am aware that I have entered a special space. Although accompanied by two friends, I am soon on my own as we each go our separate ways to photograph and experience the area.

Jazirat al Hamra, translated The Red Island, is an abandoned pearling village, just 20 km to the south of Ras Al Khaimah city in the United Arab Emirates.

After the decline of the natural pearl industry, its inhabitants left between the late 60’s and the mid 70’s. Some say the inhabitants were attracted by the prospects of better living conditions being offered by the local government, others that that there were better opportunities including relocation in Abu Dhabi. Yet others cite disputes between one of the tribes and local government. Whatever the reasons, the village has remained almost unchanged since then, and is one of the few remaining areas where one can catch a glimpse of what the Gulf was like before oil was discovered.

The deserted village has three distinct styles of architecture - coral stone buildings from the first half of the last century, sand brick buildings from about 1955 onwards, as well as buildings made from concrete breeze block from the 1960s. Fascinating to behold, the deserted houses, mosques and shops evoke the imagination.

Clicking away on my iPhone, I round a corner and am suddenly stopped in my tracks. Standing before me are two women in traditional dress. Alone in this vast space, I approach them and greet them in Arabic.

We soon establish that our spoken communication is limited. I am only able to see their eyes and I cannot help but notice the openness and kindness in them. The hidden smiles shine from sparkling eyes and I gather that the one lady is there to show the other around. As she shares, I pick up the word “baba”, a term of endearment for father, and gather following her hand movements that her father and his father had lived in the village at the spot she is pointing to.

The chances of such a meeting are overwhelmingly slim and I suddenly feel I have entered a portal.

The portal in science fiction is an extraordinary opening in space or time that connects travellers to distant realms or to the past or the future. This moment in Jazirat al Hamra is for me a time portal. I catch a new glimpse of the village before it was deserted, and simultaneously have the feeling that this lady is sharing memories with me not only from the past, but at the same time, memories from the future.

I have written before about a time to come when communication will be beyond words and am living it at that moment.

I hover in the past, the future and the present moment and realise it is all one. We are all one.

We eventually part ways but the two-fold memory of past and future is with me.

Back home, I begin to do further research on the village. Moving through the corridors of cyberspace, I follow one link after the other - each one somehow a portal leading me to another - until I suddenly discover one very special one. It is as if I have this time been diving in cyberspace, searching for an oyster that will yield a special pearl. Please spend some time at this wonderful discovery , as via it you can read about the village as well as watch videos on certain areas and even listen to a former pearl diver speaking!

Time Portal

I have created this piece on my iPhone to remind me of this day and all it brought and led to. Currently, I am imagining it being possibly printed onto rusted steel.

Memory

As I worked on this second artwork, I wished to create a sense of a special story being woven in time, and hence incorporated what could be seen as a tapestry or carpet like effect. I considered calling it “Time Tapestry” but eventually decided on “Memory”.

This piece also came into being at a time when I was reading up more about asemic writing.

"Asemic writing is a wordless open semantic form of writing. The word asemic means "having no specific semantic content”. With the nonspecificity of asemic writing there comes a vacuum of meaning which is left for the reader to fill in and interpret….. The open nature of asemic works allows for meaning to occur trans-linguistically; an asemic text may be "read" in a similar fashion regardless of the reader's natural language." - Wikipedia
"Asemic writing offers meaning by way of aesthetic intuition, and not by verbal expression." - Michael Jacobson in his article "On Asemic Writing"

When I met the two women, we were conversing despite a lack of understanding of the words being used. In fact, we had been conversing beyond words. We had communicated with gestures, smiles and eyes, but more especially with our hearts.

With all of this in mind, I allowed myself to sense the energy I had experienced that day, and then simply left my fingers to move across my iPhone screen. The first of my asemic artworks had come into being in an attempt to share the beauty of that moment, the meeting with the women, and our shared humanity.