Wissam Shawkat (Jury member from Dubai.UAE):
Fascinated with poster art in IRAN
As a calligrapher and graphic designer, I was always admired and fascinated with poster art in IRAN, which I think it played a major role in bridging cultural and modern IRAN. In the recent years I noticed a big movement in using typography and calligraphy in a very modern and contemporary way in poster design in IRAN, doing a composition by letters and calligraphy words always attract attention and has a visual values in graphics, it is away to say that the IRANIAN graphics established a trend in the international Graphic design world.
I was honored to be invited as a jury member to judge the works that submitted to the 5th International Annual of Typography Poster as Asma Ul Husna.
The task was difficult as all the works which were selected to the final judging are very impressive and creative. But I followed criteria in selecting the works based on the simplicity, the graphic values in the work, the clever use of typography and calligraphy, layout and the simple message. I think the powerful typography poster design is not about making a nice typography composition of words, but its all about make the poster speak for itself even if you can’t read it.
Finally I want to thank the organizer for making such event and for paying attention to such important subject, and my wishes to all participants.
Rene Wanner (jury member from Switzerland):
«Idea, Image» and «Name, Attribute»
When I was invited to come to this exhibition, I was asked to give a short talk about the current state of religious posters in the world. I had already talked about this subject during my last visit to Tehran in 2006, showing religious posters from my collection from India, Iran, Africa and Mexico. I am happy to report that I now found them in some more countries: Taiwan, Poland, and, somewhat to my surprise, in Switzerland, practically right in front of my house. Sometimes your nose has to be pushed right against a picture before you see it, thank you for doing that.The Swiss religious posters are very simple in design, particularly if you compare them to Iranian religious posters. They consist of a plain uniform background with a short text from the bible, center justified, in an ordinary font. Why are they so simple? The posters are published in the protestant part of the country and reflect the protestant idea that any decoration or luxury in the service of God is unnecessary and only distracts from God.
Knowing that Christians have at least two images of God, I was quite surprised to learn of the Islamic Asma ul Husna, the 100 names or 100 attributes of Allah. I am using «idea», «image», and «name», «attribute» interchangeably, aware that they may not mean exactly the same thing, but also aware that they may just be different angles or perspectives of the same concept.
In Hinduism, the corresponding term is «incarnations» of God, and the estimate of the numbers range from a few thousand to hundreds of millions different incarnations of Brahma or Krishna. A science fiction novel about Tibetan monks tells of their attempts to write down the 9 billion names of God. The Jews, on the other hand, are not allowed to have even one image of God, as it says in one of the Ten Commandments «You shall not make for yourself an idol». It can be, and has been, discussed how to interpret «idol», whether this means literally a statue, a painting or drawing, or rather an idea or interpretation of God.
The answer to this question is given in the biblical book of the prophet Job (in German Hiob), known in Islam as Ayub. The book is a fascinating discussion about the image of God, but is not easy to read and understand, as there are several stories within the main plot, which I omit below in the interest of clarity:
Job is a successful businessman with lots of houses, camels and wives, does his daily prayers, gives alms and obeys the rules as required in the Bible. One day, God decides to test him, and takes away all his possessions, one after another, including his health. Job does not like or understand this, keeps up his daily prayers however, but begins to make comments to God about unfair treatment, and points out that he fulfills all his obligations. God replies that Job’s image of God is wrong and far too simple:
«I am not some kind of vending machine where you put in a dime at the top and out comes some candy
at the bottom, where you do your prayers and get wealth and happiness in return». They quarrel with each other for many chapters, Job is not easy to convince, or does not even seem to listen to God’s arguments. Finally, in a beautiful illustration of the power of visual communication, God says to Job: «Have you ever seen a crocodile, looked at the terror of it’s mouth and teeth? Could you make a thing like that? I, God, designed and built crocodiles, not you, and you are not going to tell me who I am and how I should behave». Meekly, Job finally gives in and admits that any notion he may have had about God was wrong, and he should indeed not make «a picture of God». Clearly, the book of Job is not about painting or visualization but about religious philosophy.The question remains however how the unity of God can coexist with his hundred different attributes, or names. I must leave the answer to the philosophers, but as a trained physicist, I can live with the apparent paradox. Every graduate student is familiar with the wave - particle duality of electromagnetism and knows that both points of view are required for a full understanding of the nature of light. I think it is human nature to paint yourself a picture of God, to imagine him as merciful when you have done wrong, or as powerful when you need his help. It is sometimes difficult to pray to a black hole of mystery, and tempting to believe in something more real and less abstract. The 100 different names at least remind us that God is not easy to grasp.What I like about the subject is that it is so universal. All religions deal with it, and everybody, even a non believer, has his own image of God.