Drawing Performance

Why is it better to last than to burn (Letter to Umm) (2017)

Performance drawing over social media, with acrylic ink, water-soluble crayons, gum arabic and ashes on paper.

Created in response to the pre 6th century Arabic love poem "Rider" by Umm Addahak al-Muharibiyya, it is a part of the exhibition Radical Love: Female Lust.

come and I'll tell you what's burning me.
Whatever lovefire people feel,
mine's hotter.
All I want is to win him over and float in his favour.
Translation by Abdullah al Udhari - Classical Poems by Arab Women

Yearning was the key theme of the poem. This piece is both a physical drawing and a performance of it. It is an act as well as a record of my attempt to communicate with the pre 6th century poet, sharing my experience and feelings of yearning with her. The process of the making of the drawing was documented, mostly in video format, and uploaded on social media, acting as a kind of episodic drawing performance. These fragments are linked together under the hashtag #whyisitbettertolastthantoburn and eventually gathered together on Storify.

The resulted drawing was exhibited together with a QR code that linked to the Storify page.

This was an experiment to present process with a framed work, bringing virtual memories with the concrete aftermath. Placing together the ephemeral (performance) with the permanent (drawing), the work questions the possibility and ways in which something lasts, this is further emphasised by the title of the work, which is a quote from Roland Barthes on love.