“Point by Point” by Qurratul-Ayn Tahirih

If I met you face to face, I
would retrace—erase!—my heartbreak,
pain by pain,
ache by ache,
word by word,
point by point.

In search of you—just your face!—I
roam through the streets lost in disgrace,
house to house,
lane to lane,
place to place,
door to door.

My heart hopeless—broken, crushed!—I
heard it pound, till blood gushed from me,
fountain by fountain,
stream by stream,
river by river,
sea by sea.

The garden of your lips—your cheeks!—
your perfumed hair, I wander there,
bloom to bloom,
rose to rose,
petal to petal,
scent to scent.

Your eyebrow—your eye!—and the mole
on your face, somehow they tie me,
trait to trait,
kindness to kindness,
passion to passion,
love to love.

While I grieve, with love—your love!—I
will reweave the fabric of my soul,
stitch by stitch,
thread by thread,
warp by warp,
woof by woof.

Last, I—Táhirih—searched my heart, I
looked line by line. What did I find?
You and you,
you and you,
you and you.

persian miniature - seated princess

“red shift” by cildo meireles

another cildo meireles installation at the museu d’art contemporani de barcelona was called “red shift”. in physics the term describes the stretching of light as it travels through expanding space on its way to the earth. but meireles is referring to a shift in perception.

the installation occupies a u-shaped space, starting with what looks like a studio apartment done up exclusively in red. there is a normalcy to this environment. the monochromatic color scheme is soothing although the abundance of red objects could also point to a hoarder’s obsession with collecting/acquiring/consuming. to me it was a capitalist’s sanctuary. this first part is called “impregnation”.

the second part of the installation connects this first room to a second room. it is a winding path along which a tiny bottle lies sideways, spilling a disproportionately large amount of red paint. already the installation starts to feel a bit odd and unsettling. as we move along this pathway the paint spill seems interminable. the lights dim. it gets progressively darker. this part is called “entorno”, which means both spill and environment in portuguese.

we finally reach the second room, the most dramatically staged yet. it is pitch black now. we cannot see the contours of the room. a spotlight is mounted on top of a large white sink, floating in space at a crooked angle. there is blood-like fluid gushing forth from the faucet, making a loud splashing sound. like the spill, this spurt seems never-ending. the effect is that of a crime scene, something cinematically staged in a horror movie. it is ominous, terrifying. this part is called “shift”.

our perception has effectively shifted from familiar and comforting, to odd and surprising to downright frightening. the work is said to have been inspired by the murder of a journalist by brazilian police, when the country was struggling under a military dictator in the 1960s. the message seems clear. unbridled capitalism or accumulation of private wealth, which for many countries goes hand in hand with dictatorships, can only be achieved through exploitation and violence.

“red shift” by cildo meireles

cildo meireles – mission/missions

saw this stunning installation in barcelona. a group of 2,000 bones hang from the ceiling. lit beautifully, they look like an opulent, heavy chandelier that looms over a sandbox filled with glistening pennies. the money is connected to the bones by a tall stack of communion wafers. brazilian artist cildo meireles is talking about the jesuit exploitation of the tupi-guarani people – how the church used religious conversion to further economic gain. the installation is enclosed within sheer black curtains – the “mission” being hardly veiled.

mission/missions (how to build cathedrals by cildo meireles

Cildo Meireles. Mission/Missions (How to Build Cathedrals), 1987. Approximately 600,000 coins, 800 communion wafers, 2,000 bones, 80 paving stones and black fabric, 235 x 600 x 600 cm. Daros-Latinamerica © Cildo Meireles