# The Math Book, An Installation by Hiba Alansari in Munich

Feb 2017

**The Fine Arts Academy in Munich will host an exhibition of Hiba Alansari’s installation The Math Book, a beneficiary of the second edition of the Laboratory of Arts programme, on 7-12 February 2017.**

**On the project’s story and context, Hiba Alansari shares the following words:**

**The installation’s background**

I was born in Libya. I lived there until I was 12 years old. I had never travelled to my home country, Syria, at that time. I would only hear stories about it from my parents. I would see it in my nightmares: a blue and grey place, with crumbling buildings, as if it were a city of dough.

I left Syria for Germany in late 2012. In the Spring of 2014, I went to Kafrenbel—the famous town in northern Syria, where the Assad regime had lost control—to work on an art project in a public square in the town, an installation of a house, destroyed by bombs from Assad’s planes.

While I was walking around the town’s neighbourhoods, many of which had been destroyed, I wandered into a recently-built and recently-destroyed two-storey house. The cement’s colour was dark grey. Under a piece of rubble coming from the ceiling, I found a math book. I took it, as if I was stealing this place’s memories, and brought it back with me to Munich.

I hated math and I was afraid of this book, lying around in my place like a dead body. My relationship with numbers has never been good. Now, I had killed numbers in my workshop, lying around all the time.

When I flipped through the book’s pages, I learned the student’s name: Noura Bazkadi. She passed away when her house was shelled.

**The installation’s concept**

Construction and destruction take ‘a regular form’.

The sight of crumbled buildings after explosions has become familiar to Syrians. Every day, we see our homes turn into new geometric forms, sometimes into ashes, under shells.

Rectangles, parallelograms, squares, circles, half-circles, and ashes.

I worked on reshaping geometry and repeating forms created by explosions. I tried to show the absurdity and illogicality of explosions.

Therefore, I am trying to explore the moment of explosion, and the moment after.

*Math Book* is an installation built on three components.

**The first component: The document**

The document, which is the first component, is Noura Bazkadi’s sixth-grade math book, printed in 2013-2014. Inside a glass cubicle is the book, which was found among the ruins of the student’s house which was destroyed by a thermal rocket from a Syrian Army Mig 21 fighter jet on December 1^{st}, 2013.

**The second component: Destruction**

Hiba Ansari’s math book, printed in 2016-2017.

It is a scrapbook with images of pieces of kitchenware that explain an incorrect mathematical equation.

In this component, I have shredded knives, forks, and plates with illogical mathematical equations through them.

I could rid myself of my relationship with kitchenware. Neither could I separate it from the numbers and geometric forms which we learned about in school. Spoons, plates, and knives are also geometric forms, which I am interested in deconstructing and reproducing illogically.

I have formed this on a wooden board and took pictures of the results. When I shredded knives, I felt that the world is fragile like iron, and flexible like memory—we can shape it any way we want.

*Math Book *will contain fabric, sketches on paper, and destroyed pages from the book.

**The third component: Construction**

This component is a group of sculpted forms, made from cement and sponge in the shape of rectangles and parallelograms.

Three cement pieces in the shape of parallelograms, built to resemble a building pillar, which is main geometric form to build a real room.

I tried to imprison the air and capture the moment of explosion, using the contrast between cement and sponge.

A light fall of cement on sponge distorts the sponge’s form, which is affected by the pressure of weight and mass.