Time is Measured by Distance, is composed of two sculptures made of cement and plaster. The work was built on site at the Badi Palace for Marrakesh Biennial 2016.
“The memorials which your own and other nations have once had of the famous actions of mankind perish in the waters at certain periods; and the rude survivors in the mountains begin again, knowing nothing of the world before the flood”, Plato, Timaeus 22B
Water, as a space, had triggered constant longing for knowledge and philosophy in ancient civilizations, it’s something embedded in its essence; Geometry was invented; it’s said, from the measurement of lands, which is made necessary by the Nile when it confounds the boundaries at the times of its overflows. Astronomy and arithmetic responded to practical calculations and night-sailings; for each of these branches of knowledge concerns the merchant and the sailors. It is the Mediterranean Sea that crystallized knowledge that once embraced the cosmos, its logic and powers.
Sediment samples from below the deep seafloor of the Mediterranean Sea show that about 5.96 million years ago in the late Miocene period, the precursor of the Strait of Gibraltar closed tight and the Mediterranean, for the first time and then repeatedly, partially dried out. (The Strait of Gibraltar finally reopened with the Zanclean flood, 5.33 million years ago)
Things are better recognized/ realized by their contraries (*بِضدِّها تتبيَّنُ الأشياء).
Our perception of a thing is tied to its opposite, we see movement because we are still; a gate is a gate because it closes… It is life, because we die.
The strait is the space and its opposite, it is, and it’s not the possibility.
It’s a space that we don’t know if its opening or closing, the proximity, the tension, creates a specific force and a plane of gravity.
It is a space where the straight line between two points is no longer possible; a space that is about to happen but never really happens.
What was once a pile of salt is now the undefined space, distance and time.
How do we dwell when we are always on the limit?
“You are born anywhere, anyhow. You die anywhere from anything…It’s a world with no space”, Franz Fanon, “The Wretched of the Earth”
After landing on the coastal strip overlooking the rock, ( which was named as Jabal-ul- Tariq, later derived to Gibraltar), Tariq Bin Ziyad, it’s conqueror, ordered the burning of the ships that had brought him and his troops from Africa**
It’s when pillars become towers, when bridges become tunnels, movement is the thing and it’s opposite.
Time as a physical object, as a space is constructed through this mass. The void between the two shores is constructed as a volume that links the highest point between the two shores- the rock of Gibraltar (426 m) and Jebel Musa (842 m, Tangier)
The vertical and the horizontal are investigated as an impossibility, an impossibility of movement, and constructed through creating the thing and its opposite; the staircase as an oxymoron.
* A verse by the poet Abu at-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi ( 915- 965, Iraq)
**This is first mentioned over 400 years later by the geographer Al-Idrisi (b 1100- in Spain, Moroccan)
***Time is Measured by Distance, is composed of two sculptures made of cement and plaster. The work was built on site at the Badi Palace for Marrakesh Biennial 2016.
About the artist
Saba Innab is an Architect, urban researcher, and artist practicing out of Amman and Beirut. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the Jordan University of Science and Technology. She has participated in Home Workspace Project in Ashkal Alwan- Beirut (2011–2012).
Her work was shown in various exhibitions such as Home Works 7 in Beirut and “Lest the two Seas Meet” in the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw- 2015, and Hiwar in Darat al Funun- 2013.
Her practice as an architect and urban designer in the reconstruction of Nahr el bared Palestinian refugee camp (north of Lebanon) with UNRWA, has influenced her multi-disciplinary practice in a way that can be seen in the constant attempt of rethinking architecture and dwelling in temporariness on a physical and philosophical level. Nahr el Bared project was nominated for the Aga Khan award for Architecture in 2013.
Most recently, she has received the visiting research fellowship initiated by Studio-X Amman in 2014.
Through design, mapping, sculpture, and painting, her work explores the suspended states between temporariness and permanence, and is concerned with variable notions of dwelling, building, and language in architecture.
Text and pictures courtesy of Saba Innab