The potency of words and inscription can inspire contemporary artists. For Fathi Hassan, the local languages and graphic systems of his native Egypt and Sudan provide a visual vocabulary for exploring issues of representation and meaning in his photographs, videos and paintings.
In his works, Fathi Hassan often addresses the balance of power between oral practice and the written word and places 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.
A photographic still that is part of a video installation, featuring a man's face on the proper left facing a face composed of script.
African Mosaic: Celebrating a Decade of Collecting, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 19, 2010-November 13, 2013
TEXTures: Word and Symbol in Contemporary African Art, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., February 11-September 4, 2005
Kreamer, Christine, Mary Nooter Roberts, Elizabeth Harney and Allyson Purpura. 2007. Inscribing Meaning: Writing and Graphic Systems in African Art. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution; Milan: 5 Continents Editions, p. 215, no. 18.13.