Cold clamor of exile

“The letter is like being, it has a life, a journey, such is the theme of Moroccan calligraphy. »

“A black square approaches a white square, smiles at it and sits next to it. As encouraged, the other black and white squares, discreetly, follow the same movement. In their multiplicity, a chessboard has been formed. In a regular tracing, the squares surround each other with an outline and move away. »

Words advance with indifference, detach and divide into letters. These accomplices of whim, ignore any tracing, spread and then separate. In their differences, the others intersect and intersect. In their contact, the colors arise and the values ​​are entertained.
Back, sliding in their outline, the squares lift the letters carefully and replace them respecting their location. These are agitated, jostle and underline in their body. Some are rooted in a territory, thus appropriating their domain.

This plastic realization seems to evolve in a mute, gestural and agitated discourse. The letters and the squares are placed and replaced. In the movement of the paths, I take my body in hand. Traveling to the depths of childhood, to the depths of memory, to the heart of a land, a desert, I feed on nostalgia for the future and transform my land into a chessboard. A chessboard which, shifted, seems to seek where to land. Thus, I separate myself from my body and evaporate in the lines of the letters. In a reversal, the letters are exchanged into pawns.

In a fertile detour, spices take care of my return. The Orient takes me away in its smells and transports me to flavors. I land between curry and samâa seeds. I collect a handful and deliver it in flavors of earth, mother earth. In my action, the spices return to their land of origin and give birth to colors and materials. Curry radiates the yellow of the Eastern sun. From samâa arise the brown of the earth and the red of the desert.

Attracted by the smells, a few strangers arrive, wander from hut to hut, then each freezes in his corner.

In my exile, far from my body, I seek my body, I seek the location of this Orient. Between black and white, I choose color. In color, I pursue value. Between black and white, am I the being or the letter? A color or a value? And isn’t exile this quest for the impossible ubiquity? This dream of being here and there, at the same time and all the time? In the darkness of closed eyes, I see the work again. In the black and white of the chessboard, I discover the night and the light, the first signs of life, the birth… I open my eyes and in the white of the light, childhood arises, a black stain from my schoolboy ink. I shift my gaze and direct it to the mirror. The reflection of a letter is projected in the black of the Khôl and draws in my eyes the line of absence. In view of the work, I finally realize that the calligrapher’s black ink runs through the veins of my letters, allowing them to awaken in the intoxication of being.

During the realization of this plastic creation, a back and forth movement, squares and letters, was often repeated until the final constitution. This back-and-forth gesture reminds me of that of exile, which occurs between the ex- and the -he. The ex- who would be the Me or the letter and the -he who would be the Other, the person of the distance or even the chess player: “It seems that this he is always one and the same character who from text to text and from book to book, travels the path of uncertainties. Like the squares, the letters or even these strangers, who move from box to box without knowing where or why. Am I not at the same time these squares, these letters and these strangers who travel the path of uncertainties? »

Rajaa Benjelloun
Journal Libération 3 Septembre 1998