Studio Said

Antiqvvs – "Geometries of the Prototypical Hypostyle Mosque." Jerusalem/alQuds Palestine/Israel

Musalla al-Marwani. An expanded collection of photographs to accompany an essay titled "Geometries of the prototypical hypostyle mosque" published in the November 2020 issue of Antiqvvs. The images were all created in 2019 in the proposed Umayyad Mosque of Mu'awiya, in the space of the newly rehabilitated Musalla al-Marwani in the southeast corner of the Masjid al-Aqsa, or Haram al-Sharif. Formerly known as Masjid al-Qadeem, or Old Mosque, as well as Solomon's Stables.

The relative absence of ornamentation in the Musalla al-Marwani actually speaks to an early dating and perhaps the space will be renamed Musalla as-Sufyani after the Caliph Mu’awiya bin Abi Sufyan.

While this presumptive Umayyad space has very little decoration, it does possess a highly charged equivalent, that of dramatic and impressive geometric patterns and forces. For me the experience is symphonic. Jerusalem was initially and continues to be highly charged for Muslims, as it is, albeit differently, for Christians and Jews. Aesthetically if not sensually, the presence of dynamic repetitive patterns stimulates an energetic (almost bewildering) sensation. Ultimately the geometries induce in the viewer and congregant a sense of intelligible —and mathematically meaningful— plan. Irregularities in the matrix make the experience edgy. The eye is given perception of persistent order that is punctuated with surprises. These themes are not only consonant with scripture but seemingly embryonic expressions of a geometric fascination amongst artists and patrons to this day. For a young community striving to organize its territory and express its identity, this architectural creation represents a centripetal, potent and profound beginning.