The art of 'none' to 'nur' : meditating loss in relation to Islamic aesthetics and spirituality within mosque spaces in contemporary Singapore
Muhammad Noor Iskandar Othman
Date of Issue2018
School of Art, Design and Media
Islamic art evolves across time and space as different communities embody varying veneers of the faith. This is reflected in the shifting architectural articulations of sacred spaces moving towards an arguably more perplexing narrative of urbanisation, bureaucratisation and secularisation of the 21st century. For the Muslim community in Singapore, it can be observed that a more controlled political landscape has espoused a streamlined religious discourse. Such tendencies are translated into mosques vernacular wherein structured phases of mosque-building take precedence, evidently prioritising function over form since the 1970s until present. As a researcher and art practitioner, as well as a Singaporean Muslim, changes within the mosque ecosystem being the situ of research, predicate a sense of losing within the Self. These encounters with loss encompassing both the physical facades and spiritual bulwark form the main inquiries of the research. Inspired by the Sufistic framework of interiority, the thesis is designed to ruminate on the metaphorical wombing of the mosque through abstraction of its Image. This carrying of the mosque within the Self allegorises the manifestation of Divine Light ( Nur ) as Art. Where sentient experience of the researcher is central, the research oscillates between a two-track exploration —a hermeneutic analysis of past scholarship as well as a heuristic visual exploration as autoethnographical approach; in an attempt to reclaim beauty in losing. The reflexive posture in visually encountering the loss within mosque — in seeing, reading and responding through art will culminate unto an experimental artwork and cartographic journal entitled Nur and Journur respectively. Within all these, the research aims to mediate the poetics and politics of loss whilst intermingling the transcendentals of faith and art, as well as the agency of the artist.
DRNTU::Visual arts and music::Visual arts