Some extracts from Mahmoud Darwish’s poem Mural read through visual Arabic (self) portrayal art


One day, I will be what I want to be.
One day, I will be a bird, and will snatch my being out of my nothingness.

The more my wings burn, the more I near my truth and arise from the ashes.
I am the dreamer’s speech, having forsaken body and soul
to continue my first journey to what set me on fire and vanished:
The Meaning. I am absence. The pursuit of heaven.

Hanaa Malallah - Self-Portrait 2. Drawing, digital print, hoopoe birds and pen nibs on paper in glass case 111 x 150 cm

Hanaa Malallah – Self-Portrait 2, 2012

I am the stranger. Tired of plodding across.
the Milky Way to my beloved,
tired of my superficial qualities.
The world’s form narrows. Its meaning expands.
I flood the banks of my word and look at myself in the mirror. Am I he?
Will I perform my role well in the last scene?
Had I already known the play or was it thrust upon me?
Is that me playing the role or did the victim change his testimony?
When the author digressed from the original text, to live in the post modern,
and when the actor and audience disappeared from view.


Huguette Calande – Self Portrait (Bribes de Corps), 1973

At the door, I sat wondering: Am I he?
This is my language, this sound is the twinge of my blood.
Yet the author is not I.
If I come but don’t arrive, this “I “ isn’t mine.
If I talk but don’t speak, this “I “ isn’t mine.
The obscure letters reveal to me: Write to be. Read to find.
If you wish to speak, you must take action.
Thus your opposing pair becomes one in the meaning.
The transparent one within you is your ode.

Laila Muraywid - Les Angoises Humides, 2008

Laila Muraywid – Les Angoises Humides, 2008

Sailors surround me, but there is no harbor.
Vanity devoured my subtlest phrase and my most direct word.
I couldn’t find the time to identify with my intermediate position.
I didn’t ask yet about the blurring similarity between exit and entrance.
I couldn’t find death so as to pursue life.
I found no voice to scream:
Time! you took me too far.
You deafened me to what the obscure letters reveal.
The real is the absolute unreal.
Time, who never waits for those delayed at birth,
keep our past newborn.
It’s the only remembrance we have of you
when we were your friends, not the victims of your chariots.
Leave the past unchanged, unable to lead or be led.

Masri Hayssam - Screaming#22 -Syria series, 2013

Masri Hayssam – Screaming#22 -Syria series, 2013

Elements and feelings dissolve.
I can’t see my body there.
I don’t feel death’s power, nor my first life,
As if I were another person.
Who am I ? The dead or the newborn?

Samira Badran - Self Portrait, 1978

Samira Badran – Self Portrait, 1978