‘The Tale of 1001 Gazes’ by Samina Virani at the Sharjah Art Museum

Samina Virani unveils her exhibition, ‘The Tale of 1001 Gazes,’ at Sharjah Art Museum centred around the theme ‘Manifestations.’ Invited by the Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival, Virani presents a labyrinth of mirrors installation and a poetic soundscape with visual projections inspired by her introspective desert explorations.

‘The Tale of 1001 Gazes’ by Samina Virani at the Sharjah Art Museum installation view.

“The Labyrinth of Mirrors” comprises six two-way plexiglass mirrored panels (1.8m × 2.4m), incorporating principles of Islamic geometry and the Sufi Sema’s geometric configuration. Viewers, barefoot in the sand, engage in a reflective experience, sandblasted with symbols, hanging from the sky, and illuminated from above. Each panel features a speaker emitting the artist’s voice reciting original poems, creating a soundscape that envelops the narrative of 1001 gazes.

The exhibition stems from Virani’s seven-year personal research exploration of “remembering” (the zhikr), originating from periods of solitude in the desert. It encompasses 40 precise encounters, where the artist’s inner journey and connection to totality resonate in a geometric code. The result is formations of Polydecahedron crystals, representing the 7th layer of the Fibonacci sequence, generating 1001 points of light that symbolise interconnectedness.

The “Chandelier of Reflective Poetry” features 40 silver plexiglass mirrored panels (15cm × 15cm), engraved with handwritten poetry inspired by each encounter. Virani spent approximately three minutes on each spontaneous poetic text, exploring the temporality of the moment, etching them as a reminder of the everlasting transmission of brief moments.

Virani’s work delves into the exploration of remembering, resonating in the eye of the other, and the fine-tuning of “seeing” and “being seen.” Influenced by Arabi, Jorge Luis Borges, Michel Foucault, Lewis Carroll, Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, and Inayat Khan, the exhibition intertwines visual and poetic elements, creating an experience of interconnectedness and soulful transmissions.

‘The Tale of 1001 Gazes’ by Samina Virani at the Sharjah Art Museum installation view

About Samina Virani

Samina is a conceptual artist and performative researcher who navigates her deconstructed realm, termed “wonderland,” as a laboratory for dismantling the labyrinths that surround us. In her quest to unveil glimpses of a mystical inner world, she employs performative research practices to explore the concepts of “seen” and “being seen,” delving into the invisible realms and contemplating the eternal looking glass of the “secret gaze.” Describing her work as a magical inquisition, she seeks shams, Rumi, Alice, and the white rabbit. Samina is the founder of the international program “The Rabbit Hole” and the originator of “the Rabbit Hole method,” an approach to performative research focused on “remembering.” Her artistic exploration unfolds across Paris, London, and New York, within the rabbit hole.

Location: Sharjah Art Museum, UAE

Dates: 13 December 2023

Caption featured image: ‘The Tale of 1001 Gazes’ by Samina Virani at the Sharjah Art Museum installation view.



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