Nada Debs – Concrete Carpet

Concrete Carpet

Concrete Carpet

What it means to me:

The sheer size of the piece is what first attracted my attention as I walked into the gallery. The display took over the majority of the floor space taking centre stage. The random text then caught my attention. It truly drew me in to taking another look and trying to make sense of the words themselves thinking that the ‘carpet’ was inlayed with comprehensible sentences; perhaps with powerful statements or poetry. I was a little perplexed when I saw that the entire carpet was covered in random words. Each section or rectangle that the larger carpet was constructed of was dedicated to a single letter of the Arabic alphabet. However, the only connection each word had was that it was surrounded by others that began with that same letter. Otherwise, they were just words.

I stood back to take it all in from a distance. That was when I began to relate the details of what I saw with the bigger picture, the materials used and the form of which the piece itself represented.

Now, I may be reading too much into the piece and this interpretation may not have necessarily been intended by the artist. But, here’s what I think:

Carpets, as far as being art objects, do hold quite a deep and extensive history in the Arab world and their craft has been highly viewed, adapted and admired for centuries. The Arabic language is also one that has been around for centuries and carries with it its own unique adaptations, linguistic capabilities and semantic structures. As an Arab, I feel that my language is integral to who I am and it is certainly a way in which I identify with my own roots. Seeing this piece and the way in which it superimposes one form of identity on another, setting it in a material such as concrete, speaks to the idea of the unmoving position in which our roots hold us as a culture. The fact that the piece is a carpet as opposed to a wall or a table also depicts the idea of its proximity to the floor… to ground roots. If you think about it, one major aspect of any culture is its art of language; its form of communication in which individuals form speech. Any given language is a beacon of its culture. If the language fades so do its people. Setting ones language in concrete is one way of portraying the idea that this mother tongue is here to stay.

About the Artist and the Piece:

Nada Debs’ web site:

After hearing Debs speak of her childhood in Japan and the way in which the typography was designed with both Arabic and Japanese in mind the piece took on an even deeper connection to the idea of ground roots and the influences of identity in intertwining cultures.

The more I interacted with this piece the deeper this message spoke to me and I was truly moved by its implications.

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