Cairo, Egypt: Islam Aly, 2019. Hardcover. Number 24 of 30 copies. Signed, numbered, and dated by the artist. "Inception is inspired by stories and journeys of the refugees. It is a bilingual codex in English and Arabic. The book is based on the twelfth-century Persian verse poem 'The Conference of the Birds' written by Farid Aldin Al-Attar. The poem is about the search for truth and integrity, which is parallel to the refugee's quest to re-discover themselves. [In the poem] birds meet to begin searching for their perfect king. But to find him, they need to start a difficult journey ... that only 30 of them complete. They eventually recognize that their king is each of them and all of them.
The English text is adapted from the Afkham Darbandi translation. The Arabic text is adapted from Badee Mohamed Gomaa Arabic translation “Manteq Al Tayr”. The bird images represented are from medieval Islamic artwork. Arabic Calligraphy is done by Abdul Karim and Sabri.
'Inception' was made as part of Swarthmore College’s Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary project" (artist's website).
Hand-sewn coptic binding in wooden boards with leather wrappings connected to seven miniature books. The books all have laser-engraved titles in English and Arabic on the boards. The illustrations are lasercut on Fabriano paper as is the bi-lingual text in the miniature books. The text in the larger book is laser printed on tracing paper. All text is in English and Arabic. Size: Main book is 4.5 inches diameter x 3.5 inches thick, seven miniatures are each 2 inches in diameter x .75 inches thick.
Islam Aly is an Egyptian-born book artist and teacher based in Iowa. His books explore the possibilities of historical bindings in contemporary book art practices They have appeared in international exhibitions in the United States and abroad, and in private and public collections including the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Library of Chile, Yale University, and Bibliotheca Alexandrina. In an artist's statement he writes: "When I make a historical book structure, I go through a learning process. I learn the history as well as the different physical aspects of the binding such as how a book form is constructed in a specific sequence. I learn about the use of different materials such as paper, wood, leather and dyes. I learn to make choices in selecting and replacing traditional materials that I don’t have access to. I use these different experiences to enhance my work in making artists’ books and to use historical and cultural references from these structures in the actual content. In essence, I wish to explore new ways to use the rich structures of historical books in contemporary artists’ book practice and incorporate contemporary content into strictly historical structures." ARTB/080222. Fine.