Symphoniae, Elizabeth Dorazio’s current series of artworks featuring Al Khous weaving, was created in collaboration with Bedouin women from Abu Dhabi and Ras al Khaimah as a homage to their culture and an investigation of humanity’s role within the cosmos.
Dorazio’s inspiration for Symphoniae was the rich oral tradition of women from the Arabian Peninsula. Within the Bedouin culture, written histories are rare, but women pass stories from generation to generation through their weaving circles. This oral tradition therefore imbues Al Khous crafts with a spiritual and cultural importance beyond their apparent beauty. Dorazio, an experienced Brazilian artist based in Abu Dhabi, incorporates the colourful date palm frond weaves made by the Bedouin artisans into her artwork, combining them with her small paintings and other objects.
Describing her process, Dorazio explains, “at the handcraft center in Abu Dhabi, I sit down with the artisans and while they weave, I listen to their stories. They recite poetry, talk of things that happened during their lifetimes, or those of their ancestors. They tell tales about the Bedouins crossing the desert, directed only by the wind and the stars. They talk of being guided by celestial maps and seeking direction from the stars.”
By incorporating the shapes woven by the Boudouin artisans into her works, Dorazio can see these spiral shapes as symbols of the discourse that she overhears. The spirals are like intellectual symbols, and could also represent the nature of time, which starts at a certain point, unwinding around itself, expanding metaphysically like the universe. She titled her series Symphoniae as a multicultural homage to the word’s original definition in ancient Greek, as an “agreement or concord of sounds.” Within this context, the word represents the women’s oral tradition.
For Dorazio, the Boudoiun women’s stories are related to our own personal journeys, becoming a metaphor for life in our globalized world. This is like our journey through life, in which we try to visualize our geographical location, following the route that leads us to our destiny, and seeking answers to the questions regarding human existence.
Ana Finel Honigman