Curator: Rosa Martínez.

Sharq al-Andalus Hall at Las Claras Convent, Murcia, Spain
November 25th 2008 – January 10th 2009

Opening: November 25th, 12:00 noon
Project organised by Culture and Tourism Department of the Region of Murcia and co-produced by Bancaja


Sharq al-Andalus Hall, Santa Clara Museum
Paseo Alfonso X, 1
30001 MURCIA
Tf. +34-968272398

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Saturday:
10:00 am – 1:00 pm & 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Sunday & Public Holidays:
10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Islamic Mirror (2008) by internationally acclaimed artist Anish Kapoor is the first project in a new annual series of interventions in the public space organised by the Culture and Tourism Department of the Government of the Autonomous Region of Murcia.

Islamic Mirror is a circular concave mirror measuring 2.4 metres in diameter and weighing approximately 80 kilos. Composed of small octagonal and square fragments, its perfect rendering alludes to the formal, mathematical and geometrical transition between the square and the sphere, an age-old intellectual concern for mystics, scientists and artists alike.

As Rosa Martínez, the project curator, explains, the Islamic Mirror installation in the Sharq al-Andalus Hall at the Santa Clara Museum “propitiates an extraordinary conjunction of work and context that questions the clichéd identification of public space with street space.The public space is conceived here as a space of historic condensation, sheltered and regulated by public institutions, that is transformed into cultural heritage for individual and collective use, reflection and enjoyment. Furthermore, the work conflates a wealth of diverse cultural traditions, revealing the transversal connections between the Christian mysticism of cloistered nuns, the Sufi poetics of Ibn Arabí (a mystic especially significant here given his birth in Murcia) and the artistic exploration of today. It plays with a wide range of references and ties together various different conceptions of beauty and spirituality in a search for the shared groundbase that unites them over and beyond the formal differences and rituals that might separate them. In this way, the work offers spectators a conceptual and aesthetic experience in which each individual interacts visually with it.”

The concave surface of the mirror creates an inverted and opaque shadow of what is in front of it, while the octagonal fragments it is made of reflect the image in positive of what is nearest to it. When getting up close to it, spectators will see themselves in multiple images, yet the mirror will never reflect details of the convent life: only the changing colours and tones of the light throughout the day in the outdoor spaces of the cloister.

Islamic Mirror has found the perfect emplacement in the Sharq al-Andalus hall at the Santa Clara Museum. The Santa Clara convent is an emblematic building which layers Islamic foundations with Christian refurbishments and extensions followed by contemporary restoration which, in 2003, converted its south wing into a museum. At present, the architectural complex combines its use as public space along with the private area for the nuns. The Sharq al-Andalus hall, harking back to the Islamic era, is entered through a central arch that opens onto a central pool and the nuns’ quarters.
The Santa Clara Museum is part of the network of museums run by the Culture and Tourism Dept of the Region of Murcia.

Born in Mumbai, India, in 1954, Anish Kapoor has lived in England since the 1970s where he earned a name for himself as one of the most noteworthy exponents of New British Sculpture and one of the top contemporary artists in the world.

Kapoor won the prestigious Turner Prize in 1991 and created the project for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in 2002. He has taken part at significant international events like Documenta IX in Kassel (1992), and the UK pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1990); besides noteworthy one-person shows at major museums, and fascinating public art projects like the gigantic “CLOUD GATE” opened in 2004 at the Millennium Park in Chicago.

At the beginning of the 21st century, Anish Kapoor’s work is a byword for the power of miscegenation, for spirituality born from sensuality, for the capacity to make the invisible visible and for the cognitive wealth that emerges from the subtle play of opposites: light/darkness; full/empty; earth/sky; body/mind. It can thus be viewed as part of an ongoing search for the mysticism of beauty while taking pleasure in the metaphysical subtlety of matter.

The project for interventions in the public space is directed artistically by Rosa Martínez, a renowned independent curator who recently curated the Spanish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2003), a director of the International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale at the Arsenale (2005), chief curator at the Modern Art Museum of Istanbul (2004- 2007) and author of the exhibition “Chacun à son goût” for the tenth anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (2007-2008).

Catalogue: On the occasion of this project, a catalogue edited by Rosa Martinez, published by the Culture and Tourism Department of Murcia has been released.