Elephant in the Dark

Nadine Abou Zaki  |  Performing Arts  |  2019  |  Lebanon

What does obscurity teach us about the real, the space, and ourselves? What does it tell us that we could not know otherwise? When we remove the focal point of an image, what is left? What is left to see?

By experimenting and ultimately sculpting, blindfolded, in the dark, I began answering these questions myself. This became the starting point of my artistic journey, total obscurity as a platform of experimentation. Through my interactive art performance “Please Touch”, I questioned the role of sight and vision as a contemporary tool, preferring the physical act of touching in artistic creation, and the relation of this tactile experience to memory. Realizing that touching art could trigger intense emotions that allow us to enjoy again this wonderful gift - the sense of touch, I understood that art was not just for the eyes but that depriving the sense of sight reveals this enormity of this glorious gift, our sense of touch.

"Elephant in the Dark” is inspired by a Hindu parable and Jalal al-Din’s poem, where darkness takes another dimension, deprivation of sight and the heightened sense of touch becomes the point of origin of thought and doubt. A questioning of our blind certainty.

To submit the dark is to renounce to everything we know and think we know. To all that we think and believe to be right. It is accepting to get lost, to be in a place without direction.

This exploration in darkness allowed me to become aware that in order to be available to the thought, it is necessary to change perspective and to think with the whole body. Thus, the tactile touch of the hand becomes a tactile contact of the foot with the ground.

A barefoot that fondles, that slows down, that hears to its own steps, that seeks its own direction, that gets lost every time it tries to anchor itself in the world… a foot that advances in an open space, in an infinity of possibilities, that rediscovers the meaning of the horizon, that arrives elsewhere, travels to places it never thought existed.