Large Myhrab


Absence is the form of the most extraordinary symbolic model I have encountered: the Myhrab, the niche of prayer, is a pure direction of the gaze that indicates the most sacred place in the Islamic culture. It is not significant in itself, but because of the emptiness identified by its absence. Its architectural structure indicates a space that can be perceived alternately as concave or convex: in one case it is an absence, in the other an illusion, in both it actively represents a void made visible.

The Myhrab results from a double perception and a double negation: it is neither a place nor a thing, but a void that indicates an elsewhere. The Myhrab always points to a place other than itself, the target to which the eye aims: it is the indication of a direction, a latent place.

The Great Myhrab expresses a strong metaphorical value in regard to Photography: just as it indicates a double virtuality, the emptiness that points elsewhere, so Photography, every photograph, is, and is not, what it shows: we look and see through it, we see the image and we think of the object; the reality it alludes to is beyond the image, transmitted through it.

The Myhrab is a symbol able to offer man the power of ubiquity, because it allows the believer to be here and there at the same time. It is the place of virtuality, an act of faith, a real state of illusion and the idea of a total space of representation.


Silvio Wolf, 1989-2018