MID-EAST EVENINGS I & II by Maud Lourau, Anissa Touati
Basir Mahmood, 2012, A message to the sea.
The Eden of Genesis has been variously located at the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates in northern Iraq, in Africa, and in the Persian Gulf. The Eden in Ezekiel, however, is unequivocally located in Lebanon. The “Middle-East”, an expression that takes its roots in Anglo-Saxon writings, refers to an area going from the oriental shore of the Mediterranean until Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
For many medieval writers, the image of the Garden of Eden creates a location for human love and sexuality, often associated with the classic and medieval trope of the locus amoenus - which generally leads to an idealized place of safety or comfort. A locus amoenus is usually a beautiful, shady lawn or open woodland.
However, for many of the middle-eastern artists shown here, the concept is ambivalent: the politicosocial context of this part of the world makes Eden a “lost-and-found” place. For some of them, it refers to a nostalgic past full of beautiful everyday moments; for others, it can be today’s instant of comfort and sexuality, or images of hope: the Garden of Eden can be a lost one, or one you seek for yourself.