Controversial ArtPrize Entry Uses Burned Ashes of Holy Texts

BookBurnBurned remains of three holy texts will form the center of one ArtPrize entry this year.

Syrian-American artist Nabil Mousa’s mixed-media sculpture, “Paradise Built on the Bones of the Slaughtered,” will feature welded towers displaying copies of the Bible, the Koran and the Torah that have been burned to ashes.

In an artist statement, Mousa notes that the three major religions, Christianity, Islam and Judiasm, all share the same God and profess to preach tolerance and mutual respect.

“They’re more notable today for their mutual antagonism, ill will, and violent acts,” Mousa said of three faiths. “My answer to that is these burned tomes that enact a kind of cleansing ritual in which self-reflection about faith and mutual responsibility is the hopeful end-result.”

The work will be installed in the Grand Rapids City Hall building and the artist hopes it will cause the audience to reflect on two questions: Which God do you want to take into your heart? The God of Mercy and Compassion or the God of Vengeance and Justice?

“We have allowed others to focus our minds on our differences rather than the unifying message of love, forgiveness and mercy,” he said.

Based out of Atlanta, Mousa arrived in the U.S. in 1978 and began careers in business and art in the 1990s. Now a full-time artist, he draws on his cultural heritage and notions of justice and civil rights to create exhibits that range from political and thought-provoking to controversial.

ArtPrize Seven opens September 23, 2015 and runs through October 11.

Artwork profile on ArtPrize



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