Answer

A reader saw the picture of “Mecca” I posted on a few days ago (maybe?) and emailed me with this question:

I’ve been trying to find out that too, I thought it might have been the US or Northen Africa, judging by the colour … maybe Jordan? No idea, I’m just guessing. I would love to know more about it’s construction too. The Kaaba [shrine] looks concrete but the rest is kinda cardboardish. If you do manage to find more information please drop me a line!

My brother, who sent me the picture originally (via VVORK), contacted the artist and got a quick and thorough response.  The artist is French, so I’m editing for clarity/grammar.  See below:

 

Dear IS,

Thank you so much for your email.

The image you saw on VVORK website is a photo that I shot in Ouarzazate ( Morocco).

This installation is a cinema set abandonned in the desert after the shooting of the movie :

Journey to Mecca, in the footsteps of Ibn Battuta.

The movie has been directed by Bruce Neibaur in 2009.

I’m very interested in relation that Muslim people have with this holy object.

I don’t really have a statement for this particular work but it refers to aspect of my work.

I’m interested by surfaces and what is hidden behind the surface.

In the case of the Kaaba, there is like a mystery. It’s a black box, almost empty.

I grew up in two cultures. I navigated an Arab culture in the private sphere and a Western culture in the public realm. This particular kind of double consciousness, common to those who’ve migrated to culturally different societies, has provided me with a regard defined by the superimposition of two distinct cultural filters. When I look at Tony Smith’s black cube, for example, it is difficult for me not to think of the Kaaba.

My video work “The Message”, 2010 is exemplary of this perspective. I used a cult film from the 1970s which recounts the birth of Islam. Two identical versions of the film were made simultaneously: one with Arab actors, the other with American stars. I combined these two versions to create a single film wherein Arab and American actors relate with perfect mutual understanding despite speaking their respective language.

My parents have lived in France for over 30 years, yet they are continually looking toward the Arab world. Their satellite dish, like their bodies in prayer, points eastward. My photographic series “Musallat”, 2010 shows places of Muslim prayer in Montreal, Canada. This work is an exercise in the metaphysics of photography: the camera obscura is directed toward the source of light (the East) just as the faithful orient themselves towards Mecca. While looking at the photograph the spectator also looks in the direction of this sacred site. The tropism reflected in these images attests to my geographic and psychological position in the world both as an individual and as an artist.

An abandoned film set!  How very Fellini.  Now, on to find The Message!  

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