In her installation commemorating 100 years of Islamic art in Europe, Bahia Shehab, a Lebanese-Egyptian artist and art historian, discovered there is art in saying "No". In her brief TEDTalk below, Shehab talks about how she went from creating A Thousand Times No to stenciling the letterform lam-alif (Arabic for "No") on the walls and in the streets of Cairo.
"Fellows Friday with Bahia Shehab", Interview, TED, September 7, 2012
Bahia Shehab, A Thousand Times NO: The Visual History of Lam-Alif, Khatt Books, 2010
After listening to Shehab's talk, I composed the following poem:
NO is a thousand times two letters
cast in the shards of a pharoh's bust,
printed in the embers of burning books,
aimed like bullets at Cairo's walls,
exposed in the blue a woman's curves fit.
Let the word escape your mouth, then stitch it
in the veils your Arab spring lifts.
A thousand times two letters repeated NO,
© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas