Hamid Kachmar’s Art

Via Boston.com’s Brainiac, this info on an Amazigh (Berber) artist whose show I would love to catch ‚ but can’t, unhappily. If in or around Boston, try to do so.

Using art to preserve an endangered language 

Posted by Kevin Hartnett  October 7, 2013 01:10 PM

How do you preserve a language that’s in danger of being forgotten? Turn it into art. The Sherman Gallery at Boston University is currently running an exhibitionof works by Moroccan artist Hamid Kachmar, who for twenty years has been using his paintings to help keep alive an embattled, indigenous language.Tifinagh is the ancient script of the Berbers, a minority ethnic group in Morocco to which Kachmar belongs. Tifinagh has been suppressed historically in Morocco, but Kachmar makes the script’s intricate symbols the main element of his colorful art. In some pieces, like the first one below, “Timitar 1 Symbols in Symbiosis,” the symbols are presented in neat fashion, as if they were being catalogued. In others, like the bottom image, “Tafsut Berber Spring,” Kachmar uses the symbols in more abstract form, to create images that evoke the Berber language’s complicated place in Moroccan culture.

Hamid Kachmar: Reviving the Ancient Tifinagh Script ” runs at the Sherman Gallery from September 6-October 20.

BU’s Visual Arts pages give the following information:

In Reviving the Ancient Tifinagh Script, Kachmar renders the ancient Amazigh script, Tifinagh, into textual and visual compositions that represent a struggle for identity, cultural survival, and self-conception. For centuries, the Tifinagh script has been politically suppressed; painted out of Amazigh people’s collective consciousness. For Hamid and many other cultural activists of his generation, Tifinagh represents not just the ancient script of a still widely spoken indigenous language, but also a symbol of the struggle for cultural survival.

Kachmar’s materials and techniques evoke metaphors, moods, and expressions of his home country and his experiences abroad. Hamid uses the Tifinagh script and Amazigh motifs in written, painted, carved, and woven compositions that are sometimes overtly textual and sometimes purely visual without any semantic meanings. The artist states,

“Tifinagh script has been omnipresent in my work for more than two decades. It is a very intimate, loyal, and existential relationship that has linked the script of my mother tongue, Tamazigh, and me; a relationship that began at age thirteen when I first knew that my Amazigh “Berber” language had a script of its own.”

The exhibition is curated by Cynthia Becker, Associate Professor of Art History, in Boston University’s Department of History of Art and Architecture and presented as part of Boston University’s African Studies Center 60th Anniversary celebration.

kachmar 2
kachmar 1

Images courtesy of the Boston University College of Fine Arts.

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Pierre Joris

Pierre Joris is a poet, translator, essayist & anthologist who has published more than 50 books, most recently, Meditations on the Stations of Mansur al-Hallaj (poems) from Chax Press and The University of California Book of North African Literature (volume 4 in the Poems for the Millennium series), coedited with Habib Tengour. Exile is My Trade: A Habib Tengour Reader edited & translated by Joris, and Pierre Joris: Cartographies of the In-between, essays on Joris’ work edited by Peter Cockelbergh, came out in 2012. Forthcoming are Barzakh — Poems 2000-2012 (Black Widow Press) & Breathturn Into Timestead:The Collected Later Poems of Paul Celan (FSG).

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