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Malallah has used the complex spiritual notion of barzakh to embody the concepts used in the works in this series. The word barzakh literally means ‘barrier’ or ‘isthmus’ and appears in the Qur’an as a membrane between bodies of water, as well as in the more spiritual sense of a barrier between the physical and spiritual worlds. It is widely believed that, after death of the body, the human soul resides in a space called barzakh until the Day of Resurrection. In another religious context, these works are also inspired by Jacob’s Ladder, a dream ladder between Heaven and Earth, as described in the Old Testament. 

Malallah often reframes religious concepts according to her own secular viewpoint and there is a barzakh or divide between the echoes of spiritual and political, secular ideas in her work. This equates to the modern use of barzakh in the Persian language, which can mean ‘pitfall’ or ‘limbo’.


Louisa Macmillan

October 2014

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