manuscript series

 
 

My continuous search for indigenous codes and forms to tell visual stories led me to the discovery of Islamic prayer boards (walaha). The first idea to use walaha as an art medium first struck me in 1995, at a market in Jos, Nigeria, where I saw unused boards on display for sale.

I was attracted to their unique shapes, I was also fascinated by the ingenuity of African aesthetics and how it added meaning to Arabic scripts; I began to see how these boards could tell other stories and bear other meanings. My vision of the potential of the board as a bearer of two important elements of African spirituality and literacy was so strong that, I could not get it out of my head until it was realized. Works in this series are called "Manuscript Series"

“Manuscript Series”, though executed on walaha do not make statements about Islam; rather they are an intercultural marriage of form and script. Instead of Arabic scripts, I employ Nsibidi signs and my own script-like drawings to make compositions with themes that center  on the human conditions of joy, pain and hope.

I try to manipulate the materials so the mystical essence of the board and that of Nsibidi signs are retained. The goal being to create contemporary sacred tablets whose verses tell our stories, hold our prayers and perhaps provide healing and inspiration to us.

-Victor Ekpuk

 

© 2007 Victor Ekpuk, All rights reserved

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