“Desertification”, 2016, an audio-visual installation
In December 2015, during the Christmas period, one of the oldest Muslim songs “Tala’ al-Badru ’Alayna” was adapted for a French Canadian school choir. It became very popular with the public, as it coincided with the arrival of Syrian refugees in Canada (the Liberals promised to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2015). As a result, the song was very politicised, and was called a welcoming song for Syrian refugees. The leader of the choir tried to play down this new use of the song, saying that it was chosen much earlier, and it was a pure coincidence that it was featured in the context of refugees.
The song is about greeting Muhammad, who was forced to leave Mecca and look for asylum in Medina. The song that was sung to Syrian refugees who found shelter in Canada is performed by a large children’s choir, and glorifies the prophet Muhammad, who, when he was an elderly man, married Aisha, a girl who had just turned nine years old …
In this project, a recording of “Tala’ al-Badru ’Alayna”, performed by a Canadian children’s choir, is reduced to a minimum, and it can only be heard from the low-frequency vibrations permeating through the acoustic “desert”.
Talking from an ecological point of view, when the topsoil is disturbed, erosion increases, and as a result the land deteriorates. This is the process of desertification. However, in this project, desertification is seen as receding space-time: time and space, folding in on each other, while levelling various parameters, which we use to measure the social, political and cultural climate that tends to exist in society. But it is so dry and dehydrated that promises of a better future are like a shimmering mirage in the desert.
Photographs by Kristina Inčiūraitė