A trained calligrapher, Pouran Jinchi works within the formal conventions of Persian and Arabic script. Her recent choice of source text, however, is unusual. The “Recitation” drawings focus on the Qoran, the oldest and most sacred book of Islam. The 7th-century text is never the subject of poetic license: few stylistic variations are allowed and its contents cannot be changed. Here the artist renegotiates this principle.
In the main gallery space, the Tajvid scrolls reproduce the Qoran with one conceptual remove. Selections of text have been rewritten by hand, faithful to the original in almost every way—except that the consonant letters have been erased. Only the guiding vowel sounds are left. These diacritical marks are the tajvid of Qoranic recitation, used to guide the reader through the conventions of Arabic pronunciation. But without the main consonant letters, the text is unreadable.
In the Project Room, the Zamineh drawings complete the theme by displaying what has been removed from the larger scrolls. Here the Qoranic verses are almost readable, but still lack the dots necessary for telling letters apart. The two groupings are connected by the verse names and numbers, which appear in both; and by the consistent use of bright green, the color that distinguishes the descendants of the Muslim prophet.
Jinchi brings focus back onto the visual and aural pleasure of the Qoran, while teasing apart the apparent unity of religious form. Yet the authority of the sacred text has not been tampered with—it has been wholly displaced. “Recitation” reconsiders the ways in which any text establishes a communicative relationship with its audience.