Qibla Heterotopia I

Eric van Hove, 2016

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Mixed media (10 Materials): High Atlas Walnut wood, Lemon wood, Purpleheart wood, Pine wood, nickelled silver, yellow copper, tin, steel, camel bone and wood glue.
Size: 250cm x 145cm x 5cm
Weight: 77 kg
Edition: Unique
Courtesy: Collection Muzee, Ostende, Belgium
Photo: Alessio Mei

« A Allah seul appartiennent l’Est et l’Ouest. Où que vous vous tourniez,
la Face (direction) d’Allah est donc là, car Allah a la grâce immense; Il est Omniscient »
– Sourate de la vache, verset 115.
وَلِلَّهِ المَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّوا فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ – البقرة:115

It can be checked from an atlas that the antipode of the Ka‘ba (lat. 21°25’24 » N, long. 39°49’24 » E) is a point (lat. 21°25’24 » S, long. 140°10’36 » W) in the Pacific Ocean in the vicinity of the Tuamoto Archipelago in French Polynesia.

While Islam is the centre of worldwide attention and speculations at the time the piece was made, it is mostly being depicted by global media as an exclusive and unforgiving religion, while I believe it is, as all three Abrahamic religions, ultimately meant to make the world a better place. Qibla Heterotopia I is about this one point on earth where a Muslim could hypothetically pray while facing each and every direction (since it would be equidistant from Mecca), therefore being metaphorically inclusive and omnibenevolent to the rest of the world, including humanity as a whole into Taslim.

The map of the world is therefore cut in two, with the Pacific Ocean placed in the centre. The two lines that intersect in the centre show the antipode of Mecca, while the Ka‘ba is to be located on each side of the frame. The inscriptions found on the edge of the wooden frame made of walnut, lemon and Purpleheart wood are made of camel bone, and quote verses from a poem of an Arab poet of the pre-Islamic period, Zaîd’o Ibn Amr Ibn Noufaîl, famous for his early devotion for the “Qibla”:

Debout, dirigé vers la « Qibla »,
malgré ce que vous me faites endurer, je l’endurerais ;
Suivant la même voie qu’« Abraham », je vous demande refuge
Je vous suis, Oh Dieu, entièrement soumis.

A complete description of the origin and context of this quote by Zaîd’o Ibn Amr can be found written in French on a metal plate fixed at the back of the piece.

Note: “Qibla Heterotopia I” (shown here) & “Qibla Heterotopia II” were made of interdependent materials: the yellow copper continents seen on the first were cut out of copper plates which were then used to make the second. Furtheremore, these two works are meant to the shown facing each other, exchanging their perspectives.

Mercator projection - mecca
photo 1 (Alessio Mei)