Remember Pandora of Greek mythology, maybe from a high school literature or history class? The one who opened the box (or jar) that contained the world’s evils? That’s right: a woman was responsible for all of humanity’s woes—pretty misogynous, isn’t it? However, the idea of a box that suddenly opens and releases evils that wreck havoc on the planet intrigues me.
Possibly, living abroad makes Pandora’s box a naggingly persistent idea.
“Living in between” means looking at one’s country of origin from a different perspective, from the outside, in my case, from Tunis. The Tunisian government has made few efforts to decentralize; the major activities of government—political, military, diplomatic, etc.—and commerce take place in the Tunis region. Because of such a concentrated center of national and international activity and because Tunisia is such a small country making it difficult to hide much, Tunis is a microcosm of the international diplomatic walse. Having observed over a lengthy period of time, I remain fascinated, curious, and puzzled—no, baffled—by events as they unfold in the Mediterranean region and the Arab world.
Take the Gulf Wars, for example. The first Gulf War (1991) pushed me to do several pieces, including one titled Pandora’s Box, no. 91 (34.5”x29.5”, machine embroidered, pieced & quilted, some hand painted fabrics).
The jagged shape of this piece represents the rip in the fabric of civilization when the contents of the box spew forth. Today, this piece appears lopsided to me; I would add “Saddam” and “dictator,” etc., to the mix of words. The question remains of how to deal with the arbitrary violence of armed conflict. Creative expression can give voice to concern, n'est-ce pas?
A child’s drawings inspired War Games I: A Study in Contradiction (December 1995, 57”x79”, machine pieced, appliquéd, & embroidered). Smiles, open hands, floating guns: to this day, the term “war games” sounds sinister to me.
However, those khaki/military colors provided a challenge to expand my palate.
Taking a slice of War Games I, I created a circular design that blurred the images into a pattern in War Games II (Nov. 1995, 79”x79”, machine pieced, appliqued, embroidered).
And so, I erased war…