essence and existence

Chefchaouen 2004

Essence and existence was part of the installation ‘Direct/Indirect’ by the London based group Pangaea Arts in the kasbah of Chefchaouen (Morocco), during the Arts festival in July 2004.

Existence Essence
acrylic and letraset on canvas


Explaining existence Explaining essence
Inkjet print out

essence · existence


All cultures interact with each other. Not only have they always done, but the more they interact the more they deserve to be called culture. Essence and existence is about the myth that the European and Arabic cultures are so different that they are bound to clash. It celebrates the cross-fertilization of cultures in Andalusian Spain between 711 and 1492, through which the major scientific and philosophycal works of antiquity were transmitted to Northern Europe. These currents of thought and scientific discoveries played a major role in the development of the European culture.

To illustrate this cultural exchange and its influence on contemporary Europe I based my work on the aristotelian concepts of essence and existence. Aristotle’s theories are one of the main pillars of Western thought. However, his work would be unknown in Europe had it not been for the translation and comments of it made by Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Andalusian philosopher and thinker. Thanks to Ibn Rushd’s work, Aristotles was introduced in Europe, where he influenced science and religion enormously. It is interesting that in Europe we know the work of one of the most important philosophers in our culture thanks to one of the most important Arab philosophers, who happened to also be European.

Essence and existence define the project both visually and conceptually. Essence contains the world of thought, ideas and science. Philosophers like Ibn Rushd, Ibn Arabi, pharmacists like Ibn al-Baitar, algebra, aritmetics, logarythms and algorythms (al-Jwarizmi), the decimal system and the 0. Existence refers to the tangible. Instruments like the astrolabius, things like paper, cotton or soap. Vegetables and flowers like citrics, asparragus, rose or jasmin, etc. Essence is represented by white and existence by black.

The written language used is HTML, representing western technology condensed in the Internet phenomenon, which so much depends on the Arab cultural legacy. Computers’ binary code would not exist without the 0, nor would database management be possible without algorythms. Equally, aristotelian logic would not be an essencial element of western metaphysics were it not for Ibn Rushd’s work. Cultures depend on exchange for their flourishing and development.

This interdependence is precisely what the project of essence and existence wanted to show and materialize during the festival in Chefchaouen. The circle of theory closed in practice with the collaboration of artists and audience, Arabs and Europeans. In the resulting paintings the white and HTML background was a european co-production, and the black stroke representing the putting into existence the essence of the project, was an Arabic co-production.

Installation view in the kasbah of Chefchaouen Installation view in the kasbah of Chefchaouen
essence and existence as part of the installation
in the kasbah in chefchaouen, together with
their "explanations".
With Ahmed Ben Abdellah With Zineb Makdad and Miranda Sharp
acrylic, charcoal, blue chaouen pigment
on cardboard.
The cultural exchange expressed in the work.
These two pieces, amongst others, were
produced during the festival in conjunction
with Ahmed Ben Abdellah, Zineb Makdad
and Miranda Sharp.


Pictures of the festival


Pangaea Arts and the project ‘Direct/Indirect’ for the festival

Pangaea Arts was a curatorial group who selected and invited artists for specific projects. In ‘Direct/Indirect’, for the Journee Theatrales de Chefchaouen, the group wanted to address its initially indirect and, when the group arrived in Chefchaouen, increasingly direct relationship between Chefchaouen and the Kasbah.

Bettina Reiber (Germany) (Pangaea Arts), Milo Taylor (United Kingdom), Miranda Sharp (United Kingdom), Ruby Wright (United Kingdom), Takako Hasegawa (Japan), Verónica Pérez Karleson (Spain/Sweden).


video art

video art: neighbours neighbours
video. 101 seconds. 2010.
video art: historical error historical error
video. 25 seconds. 2009.
video art: unadapted unadapted
video. 30 seconds. 2009.


other art projects

xyx28: encrypted feminist magazine art project encrypted feminist magazine
website, magazine and installation. 2007...
essence and existence art project essence an existence
i love being with you art project i love being with u
art book. 2007.
You, fascist (or the holy trinity of manipulation) you, fascist (or the holy trinity of manipulation)
installation. 2003.
LAMPallure art project LAMPallure
text drawings. 2006.
The book of madness the book of madness
art book. 2003.
Qstnnr art project on-line qstnnr
questionnaire. 2006...
Propaganda propaganda
installation. 2003.
Laaaotfohc (language as an acknowledgement of the failure of human communication) art project laaaotfohc
installation. 2006.


paintings, drawings, and photographs

Grafeos grafeos
text paintings. 2003-2007
Paintings and drawings paintings and drawings
Photography photography


complete bibliography