Faig Ahmed Pulls the Threads of Islamic Tradition with his Rewoven Rugs

  • Image courtesy of Montoro12 Contemporary Art.

Faig Ahmed is best known for his sculptural textile works that reinterpret centuries-old weaving techniques while bending the traditional language of ornament. Ahmed, who represented Azerbaijan at the Venice Biennale in 2007, draws on his rich cultural heritage to produce works that engage the past in unexpected and decidedly contemporary ways. Several examples are now on display at MACRO Testaccio in Rome for a museum show collaboration with Montoro12 Contemporary Art Gallery.

  • Image courtesy of Montoro12 Contemporary Art.

“Points of Perception,” Ahmed’s first solo show, includes a clutch of site-specific works, each of which plays with perspective while warping iconic objects from Islamic culture, such as textiles and architecture. Gorgeous handwoven rugs unravel, ooze and melt down walls, or jut out in a psychedelic mess of scrambled threads. These deconstructed objects seem to be on the verge of becoming something different or perhaps disintegrating entirely.

  • Image courtesy of Montoro12 Contemporary Art.

Some of Ahmed’s carpets are only subtly altered, but the gentle modifications nevertheless deeply impact the objects they engage. Other works have been completely overhauled, often to produce a distorted and disorienting trompe l’oeil effect. Ahmed’s process for creating these works begins with sourcing old rugs that possess unique geometric motifs and, in many cases, intriguing backstories. Using computer software, he plots a transformation for the original rugs, then dismantles, reweaves, or otherwise manipulates them to ultimately yield three-dimensional works that imply digital interference, including pixelation.

  • Image courtesy of Montoro12 Contemporary Art.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is a massive, conceptual tidal wave of manipulated prayer rugs arranged as if on the floor of a mosque. Each rug has been identically altered to depict a window, its style recognizable from Islamic architecture. The colossal installation quite literally pulls the rug from beneath tradition.


—Grace-Yvette Gemmell


“Points of Perception” is on view at Museo MACRO, Rome, Feb. 10–Mar. 29, 2016.

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