Mounira Al Solh, Mina El Shourouk ila Al Fahmah, 2019, HI-STORYTELLING, Exhibition view Sfeir-Semler Gallery Hamburg 2021
For years, the artist has been gathering stories told by women involving women’s liberation and defying systems of oppression. The tents produced under the series Mina El Shourouk ila Al Fahmah (which loosely translates as From Dawn till Dusk) are assembled to create a secluded space, recording these stories embroidered onto the inner fabric walls. The stories talk of women of all ages, powerful known figures from Islamic history or strong women the artist encountered, in both English and Arabic.
The idea of creating a tent stems from canopies under which rulers would sit in ancient times: a sign of power, these structures made with richly decorated fabric, usually had ruling men sitting under them.
This tent is one of three existing ones from the ongoing series. Each tent has distinct features with embroidered drawings that relate to one of the stories from its inside panels. In the case of this yellow tent, marine animals are sewn on the top part of the tent, relating to the story of a women, mistreated by her husband, who found refuge with her daughter in a house on the sea front. Another tent from the series is made with red fabric and includes animals from the forest, because of the story of a girl who sneaked into her father’s van to go camping with him and her brothers and discovered a place she was never allowed to experience. The third tent is currently a work in progress, and will be made with blue fabric.
On both existing tents, growing plants and leaves are intertwined with the illustrated animals, along with female body parts - which are still taboo in many societies - accentuating the reflection on passing time, and the relationship of women to aging.
The Arabic calligraphy embroidered on each triangle of the yellow tents represent the 12 Arabic names for each hour of the night. Giving a sense of rhythm to the tent, the artist intended those repeating hours as a reminder of the continuous and constant struggle of women for equality. The tent is accompanied by a recording of the voice or Rima Khcheich: the sound piece fills the space while the reader recites the 12 names of the hours of the day and the 12 names of the hours of the night in Arabic.