Time In Between, Lübbecker str.21 Berlin, 1993

Témoigner, Mathias Flügge (german)
Le sommeil de la raison, Joseph Tarrab (german)
Victims in the Shadow of Account – A Story Behind the Pictures of Salah Saouli, Harald Friecke
Nur ein Hauch von Verlust, Katrin Bettina Müller
The Way We’ve Always Done Before, Michael Wollenheit
Energetic Depots – On the New Works of Salah Saouli, Stefan Rasche (german)
Some say that writing poetry is impossible after Auschwitz, Wilhelm Gauger
Wir wollen wieder gesehen werden und euch sehen können, Wilhelm Gauger
Le mot secret, Abbas Beydoun
Obsession by Salah Saouli,
Heleen Buijs
Supperpositions, Reiner Höynck (german)
Das Labyrinth, Stefan Rasche

Wilhelm Gauger

Some say that writing poetry is impossible after Auschwitz and Hiroshima. But as inseparable as Horror and Guilt are also Life and Art; close behind are Recognition and Confrontation. For an artist like Salah Saouli, who does not shy away from either extreme, this means to refer to both, to confront each with the other, and to hold to the wrenching contradiction. Three objects bear the title „Moment“ (German: „Augenblick“). They hang on the wall like spy boxes, our curiosity is awakened, and through the pane with concentric rings that optically enlarge everything, we recognize photographs of building facades in ruins. The last decades of this century are witness to an outbreak of the most primitive barbarism, for which there are hardly any excuses left. But perhaps the gaze itself is an answer. The glass panes enlarge, defocus, and at the same time draw attention to the details as the eye is set into motion: the unanswerable monotony and cliché of destruction wins life, awakens interest, and our gaze is what shyly awakens the dead, in that it surrenders itself to devastation. Salah Saouli confronts annihilation and celebration again and again. In general, that ‘new life should blossom from the ruins’ (Schiller, “Die Glocke,” English: “The Bell”) should not become ideology: such experiences tend to be much too disappointing. Salah Saouli however has developed a method that forces us to look the unfathomable in the eye. “At the beginning was death,” writes Elias Khoury in one of his poems. Image compositions line up devastations, cover them up with one another, sometimes with a taint of color. And then there are works where lines of poetry appear on photographs and facades. A lament written in exquisite Arabic transforms suffering and nothingness into the voice of people, who still have in their downfall something immortal. Other works are reminiscent of Islamic calligraphies, pages from ancient manuscripts, with all the attributes of the precious and the singular – but where in the place of a miniature a photograph of destruction has been inserted, fittingexactlyintothedecorativeandcelebratory.This can be interpreted differently: In the heart of all splendor lurks the nonsensical, it is simply embedded in it. Or: Life still cannot hinder the incomprehensible results of human delusion. Or: Life is horror, and who does not look it in the eye misses it altogether. Or: We see the difference between mechanical and fanatical destruction and the diligence with which something unique is created. Or: Perhaps the meaningless acquires meaning in that we put it in its place, acknowledge it and continue to work patiently on its meaning.There is a Yes and a No. It seems to be our own duty to find the synthesis between the intransigence of death and celebratory life. Beauty, as we read in one of Saouli’s newer works, is to be found neither in order nor in chaos, but rather at the place where the one shifts into the other: in a fleeting, illusory and nevertheless binding moment, where our gaze gives life to the rocks or where both extremes stand vis-à-vis and shoot questions at one another. This is how the large work “Amulet” (German: “Amulett”) should be seen, a triptychon in the shape of a cross; rusty, painted tin in the center, at the transition from order to chaos. Beauty can be found in the process of aging and oxidation, as well as in the floatingmovement of the painting. On the wings to the right and left is a poem by Mahmoud Darwisch:
And we love life as the highest expression of our assets,
and dance between the martyrs,
Raise between them a minaret of violet or palm…
And steal a thread from the silkworm,
To build us a heaven and to fence in the depart,
And open the door of the garden, so the jasmine
Goes out like a lovely day,
And sow, where we remain, plants
growing quickly – and reap …

“Drei Arabische Künstler in Deutschland”, Catalogue 1993
from German by Alisa Kotmair

© salah saouli