A Moment of Light
Burnt canvas, cotton thread, glass
and mild carbon steel on wood
205 x 203 x 30cm
Executed on a grand scale, Malallah’s seminal work ‘A Moment of Light’ is the last in her series of soft-sculptural wall-based works involving the burning and folding of canvas that dates back to 2009. Drawing on self-developed techniques used in two other important series from her oeuvre, Shroud (2010-2012) and Mysticism (2011-2012), the present work displays Malallah’s ‘Ruins Technique’ at its finest, combining intricate burnt and folded strips of canvas with teased cotton thread. Malallah has always worked with found objects - for a time out of necessity in the 1980’s, due to the sanctions on artistic materials in Iraq - and developed her Ruins Technique as a manner of ‘destroying’ her materials in order to create the elements needed for her art through the replication of the effects of violent actions, the act of which is central to the finished work.
In the present work, the ash-filled canvas ‘pouches’ are open, allowing the viewer to see their contents. The colour of the material is derived from the artist’s burning process and is intended to convey a sense of rust. From the upper right of the work protrudes a glass prism, which, when viewed from a certain angle and under a certain light, reflects the colours of the spectrum. The nature of this ‘light’ is ephemeral, and no two viewers will experience the same thing. This is rooted in the exploration of a spiritual theme, something that the artist has regularly alluded to in her work – the universality of spirituality and its significance to a global audience. By placing a prism in this complex setting, she hints at the potentiality of light, or enlightenment, in an otherwise unpromising environment. Malallah plays on the fact that at first glance, this canvas landscape appears dark and barren, but when seen at the perfect moment of harmony between light and prism, emits a colourful glow that is entirely organic. This colour is not the trace of the artist’s hand, but rather the viewer’s thought.