Recreating sacred spaces with lights and shadows

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On November 20, 2015
Last modified:November 20, 2015


Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha surprisingly learned of the beauty, inspiration and mystique Islamic sacred spaces, while visiting Alhambra, Spain.

As Muslim law forbids women from entering the Mosques, Anila had never seen one back home, until her trip to mesmerizing Alhambra.

“To my amazement I discovered the complex expressions of both wonder and exclusion that had been my experience while growing up”, says Anila.

Mosques are traditionally filled up with meticulously sculpted ornamentation in stone, in geometric shapes and patterns.

And it is the same overall feeling that the Pakistani artist tried to recreate at Rice Gallery in Houston, by using a powerful lighbulb and a laser-cut wooden cube hanging at the center of the room.

The effect is an intricate play of lights and shadows over the entire walls of the room – naturally integrating the shadows of the visitors in the landscape, as if their presence as called for all along.

Anila hopes to bring some (islamic) inspiration to women elsewhere, without religious connotations.

But the mosques represent a large architectural and cultural background that should not rest ignored or forgotten only because, in their initial context, the access was strictly granted to men.

The exhibition can be visited until December 6, 2015, but if Houston is just too far for this time, you can enjoy this insightful video, hand picked by the Vimeo staff.

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