The Torino Musei Foundation , on the occasion of Artissima, the International Contemporary Art Fair and the new project for the 2019 edition "Hub Middle East", which foresees the presence in Turin of the most significant representatives of foundations, museums and galleries together with collectors , critics, curators and artists from the Middle East, presents in the garden of the GAM, and for the first time in an Italian museum institution, the site-specific installation by the Saudi artist Muhannad Shono (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 1977) entitled "The Caliph seeks Asylum (the Caliph seeks Asylum)".
It is an installation made with 3,500 black PVC pipes arranged like a makeshift camp with the intention of appearing "out of the context of time and space" and the intention of reconstructing Arab Thought.
Baghdad, capital of the Abbasid Caliphate founded in 762 AD, was annihilated in 1258 by the Mongol hordes. At the time it was a cultural center of intellectual exchange and development and its Bayt al-Ḥikma Library "House of Wisdom" was the hub of excellence in the transmission of knowledge, where philosophers, scientists and scholars met in Madinat al-Salaam or "City of Peace", and they exchanged erudition and knowledge at the highest levels. The Golden Age was a period of cultural, economic and scientific flowering in the history of Islam.
The taking of Baghdad was a traumatic event: it lasted 40 days and the Tigris River was said to be red for the blood of the murdered intellectuals and black for the ink of the destroyed volumes.
Muhannad Shono reconsiders the historical events he learned at school and the impact they had on him and on collective Islamic thought. Because he rejects the idea that glory is given by power and victories in battle, he suspends these teachings in time and remap and rewrite a new chronology. The artist suggests returning to the ancient glory of the Golden Age of Baghdad not through the resurrection of the caliphates but through the search for knowledge, the emancipation of free thought and the reconstruction of the House of Arab Wisdom.
The project was conceived by the artist specifically for the spaces of the Museum and is carried out in collaboration with the Athr Gallery in Jeddah and thanks to the support of the Leading Law Notaries and Lawyers firm of Turin. The inauguration will take place in the presence of Muhannad Shono, representatives of the Athr Gallery and Saudi authorities on Tuesday 29 October 2019 and will remain visible to the public in its imposing magnificence and darkness until 19 January 2020.