My own space : a visual exploration of the space between cultures through the application of Arabic calligraphy, Kufi, to English writing

Mohammed, Al Riyami
Ho, King Tong
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Master of Art and Design
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Auckland University of Technology

My practice-based research investigates a hybrid cultural space that involves a person taking on the values and beliefs of a new culture while still holding onto his or her original culture. My investigation is situated in Turner’s (1967) concept of liminality, which he defines as the ‘betwixt and between’, where limits and boundaries disappear and in which an individual is undergoing continuous cultural change.

I approach my investigation of issues surrounding cultural transition and hybrid cultural identities through a creative application of the traditional cultural aesthetics of Arabic calligraphy, Kufi, to an English poem written by Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1866), entitled Between My Country and the Others – a poem that considers negotiation between the original culture and the new one. Kufi is a form of script consisting of straight lines and angles, often with emphasised vertical or horizontal lines. I chose the Kufi script because of its multiple origins – it was developed and perfected aesthetically from different calligraphic scripts, which makes Kufi a hybrid script form in itself.

As an Omani national living in New Zealand, the designs of the hybrid artefacts reflect and speak of my own lived experience of the liminal space. My project focuses on my creative process of designing the visual hybrid letterforms, and the process of reproducing the artefacts in the medium of printmaking, as a manifestation of my experience of cultural transition to represent My Own Space.

Cultural differences , Cultural negotiation
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