By disclosing rarely-seen preparatory drawings, sketches, and embroidery tests from the artist’s archive, Loose Leaves offers an intimate foray into the process of making Listen to my words (2018). An immersive installation by Dana Awartani, Listen to my words combines hand-embroidered silk panels and recordings of Arabic poems recited by modern-day Saudi women to confront issues of silencing, invisibility, and gendered divisions of space deeply entrenched in the cultural fabric of the Middle East.
Drawn from the significant but scarcely documented tradition of female poets in the Arab world from the pre-Islamic era to the 12th century, the poems selected by the artist express feelings of love, yearning, and pride. They relay modes of awareness, stances of resistance, and acts of empowerment often centred on the female body.
The distinct visual language articulated by the geometric patterns—bearers of sacred values in Islamic culture—references the ornamental motifs found on jali (or mashrabiya), lattice screens used in traditional Islamic architecture to control the circulation of air and light as well as to shield women from the male gaze.
Presented alongside the original audio recording, Loose Leaves layers a selection of preparatory studies in the enclosed space of The Vitrine to provide a glimpse of the subtle negotiations that inform Awartani’s creative journey across different techniques and materials.