Teraneh Hemami Perforamnce Series - ”I Speak of Shards and Pebbles”

Reverberations of Stone was a depiction of a Mehrab, which is a devotional niche marking the direction of prayer in a Mosque. Taraneh Hemami's installation for Thresholds of Faith: Four Entries into the Beyond was an experiment that collapsed spaces and overlapping systems of belief. Muslim visitors were invited to use the space for prayer - the jade niche was in fact facing Mecca.

Taraneh's event series was powerful and timely, as she included contemporary artists that could address several of the unjust and tragic events happening to Muslims around the world. She invited performance artist Amitis Motevalli to recreate a soundscape of a mehrab, which was historically designed to fill the space with a cacophonous chorus of spiritual folk songs depicting oppression, war and martyrdom.  Motevalli overlayed rituals from multiple religions and traditions with the aim of offering consolation and bringing solace to the mourning families. It was the first time in many years that so many Muslims visited the church and it was the gallery and art that brought them.  I learned that over 40 years ago, a Mosque existed in the basement of St Ignatius Church, it was created for Muslim students at the University of San Francisco. For reasons that are not entirely clear, the space has since been removed. This exhibition helped to establish new relationships between the two religious communities.