At first sight, this pleasant composition appears to be a colourful take on the traditional blessings that are displayed in homes (health, delight, happiness…), in a freehand script of Maghribi inclination. Yet, barely discernible behind the bright colours, something dark and looming calls for a closer scrutiny. We discover then, behind the cheerful facade, the shadow of words of an entirely other register: greed, violence, pain…
So do we learn to cover up our inner darkness, the socially unacceptable parts of ourselves, and paint it over with what helps us fit in, to the point where we’re no longer conscious of its existence. Even when we realize it’s there, it is still very difficult to make out the words and identify the nature of what we have hidden from ourselves.
Saada سعادة (happiness) vs. Hanaq حنق (rage)
Baraka بركة (blessing) vs. Huqd حقد (hatred)
Yumn يمن (good fortune, prosperity) vs. Shaqq شقّ (fracture)
Nur نور (light) vs. Zalâm ظلام (darkness)
Ghibta غبطة (exultation, delight) vs. Hala’ هلع (burning anxiety)
Afiya عافية (health, vitality) vs. Sharah شره (greed)
Surur سرور (pleasure) vs. Waja’ وجع (pain)
Ne’ma نعمة (grace) vs. ‘Onf عنف (violence)
Salama سلامة (soundness, well-being) vs. Hulk هلك (exhaustion)
Note that all nine shadow words used here are 3-letter root words in Arabic, underlining the basic, primordial character of these states and feelings. In addition, although hidden, their presence remains implied and necessary in order to ground the surface words, which are free-floating and vaguely placed without them, suggesting this unwanted darkness may have a place we have yet to acknowledge.