Sunday, August 23, 2009

American Qur'an

from the article,

Now, Long Beach artist Sandow Birk has challenged that centuries-old tradition. His series of works on paper, “American Qur’an,” is an English-language version of the central text of Islam, illustrated with scenes from contemporary American life. Selections from the project, which is ongoing and will eventually include more than 300 pages, will be on view at Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco starting Sept. 5 and at Koplin Del Rio gallery in Culver City as of Sept. 8.

Executed in ink and gouache in an understated, realist style, many of the 16- by- 24-inch works depict everyday sights — urban street life, office workers in their cubicles, a pregnant couple in their front yard. Others represent more historic moments, such as the smoking towers of the World Trade Center or a funeral with a casket draped in a U.S. flag. In the center of each image are two neatly framed boxes containing the text, which is hand-lettered in a font reminiscent of graffiti writing.

Although the Koran does not prohibit the creation of images, it does contain an injunction against the making of idols, and the faith’s second most important text, the hadith, includes additional restrictions on the use of figurative imagery, said Komaroff. Whether “American Qur’an” violates these decrees seems to be a matter of interpretation.


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