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The eye and the night, a night exhibition to explore the cultures of Islam

From September 19th to February 9th, the Institute of Islamic Cultures of Paris presents the eye and the night, an exhibition which invites to observe the celestial vault on a mystical journey.

The eye and the night are symbols that can be found everywhere in Islamic culture. In the Qur’an, God created the stars in order to guide men into life. Calculate the schedule of the five daily prayers, the beginning of the holy month of fasting Ramadan or knowing the direction of Mecca, so many things that rely on stars observation. In this sense, the practices of Islam as those of the Bedouins contributed to the progress of astronomy. Between the ninth and eleventh centuries, many Muslim scholars participated in the development of mathematical tools, among which the astrolabe that allows knowing the time by measuring the position of stars and planets. Among them: the famous Al Khwarizmi, but also astronomers like Habash al-Hasib and Thābit ibn Qurra who made a mathematical theory from the Almagest of Ptolemy.

This exhibition is an invitation into a night-time wandering at the crossroads of science, mysticism, politics, and illusions. Eighteen artists from Africa, the Middle East, and Europe offer their own metaphysical quest and representations of the fascinating world of the night.

 

A myriad of artists

The night as an abstraction from the day, found in the works of Mona Saboni which takes pictures of fireworks, but also in the night landscapes of Saad Qureshi, whose shades of black are revealed in artificial light. The night that sometimes comes in our daydreams and in the sky, like Moongold, a photographic series of Stephanie Saada capturing the moon at different times of the day in the city of Beirut. The night as a suspension in the middle of time, a break before the start, described in the work of Renaud Auguste Dormeuil with his pictures of constellation immersed in the dark night of Baghdad. With Mourad Salem, it is the magical character of the night that is explored through a large fresco of deep blue dotted with stars and golden balls within its center the bouraq, mythological figure and winged mount accompanying the prophet during his nocturnal journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and from Jerusalem to heaven. Finally, the artist Fayçal Baghriche draws with humor in his childhood memories and the TV program to show the way fiction and reality coexist in us through night dreams.

This exhibition is also accompanied by many events around the topic of the night, such as introductory courses in astronomy for kids, readings of tales under the stars and workshops on the colors of the moon. But also cinema from the Arab world and concerts of Sufi music such as Tunisian banga or Moroccan gnawa.