Etel Adnan - Dhkir, 1978

With Dhikr, which could be translated as “incantation,” Etel Adnan evokes the war in Lebanon. In a last effort to move on and instead of taking a dramatic look at the war she decided to write—as a psalmody—the same word, Allah, over and over again. Each written word corresponds to a bomb going off in Beirut. Each breath is a clap of thunder. Inconsolable, she tries, through this endlessly breathed and recited word, to find a certain vibration within herself. She overlays the tirelessly repeated word with perfect geometric shapes—squares, circles, triangles—evoking the cosmos. Between here and there, between heaven and hell, she tries to use this moving projection of her own suffering, but also that of a whole country, convey the indescribable. A gentle movement stems from this flow, in which the expression of death or terror (strangely) loses its tragic character. Paradoxically, this leporello is a paean to life.