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Storytelling AND Graphics: Glance toward the unknown

Posted by: | October 18, 2011 | No Comment |

We’ve been learning about spoken word giving way to the written word. This past weekend, I went to the National Museum of African Art. I saw this picture:

Glance Toward the Unknown by Fathi Hassan

I was totally confused.

You may not be able to see it but the script making up the face on the left is illegible Arabic. It took me some time to understand (and reading the plaque helped), but the photographer was making a statement about the written word vs. spoken word.


The plaque read, “In his works, Fathi Hassan often addresses the balance of power between oral practice and the written word and places of particular emphasis on lost languages. Most of his scripts are deliberately illegible, and they thus question the assumption that the written word is always accurate. This image exemplifies Hassan’s artistic practice of linking performance art and photography.”

I found it interesting that the writing face was so much larger than the human face. Maybe, like in class, this is because the written word can reach a larger audience.

But why make the words illegible?

I’m not Egyptian or Sudanese, like the artist, but I think those cultures may still value the spoken word. To them, maybe the spoken word reaches a larger audience because of all the censors their written words go through. The spoken word is clearer because there is less interference.

I could be completely off track but I thought it brought up an interesting view to relate to what we are learning in class. We, as Americans, often take for granted our freedom of speech. We are often not to believe everything we see in the media, but other people in different countries may not believe the media since it can be so censored.

Just something to think about.

under: Comm 455
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