Cultural transaction [with] Towla
An extraordinary collection of works by contemporary Melbourne artist Deanna Hitti, comprising her artist’s book Towla and two monumental wall pieces titled Cultural Transaction.
[Melbourne] : the artist, 2017. Folio, screenprinted buckram, screenprinted endpapers, pp. 40; ; 40; screenprinted on Somerset 115gsm Bookwove paper, housed in a screenprinted clamshell box. Limited to 10 copies plus three proofs. Signed, dated and numbered by the artist.
Cultural transaction : English instructions
[Melbourne] : the artist, 2017. Black lettered charcoal solander box (525 x 350 mm) housing 24 cyanotype bifolia, each measuring 500 x 660 mm (central fold), the first with letterpress title, each cyanotype printed recto and verso to the sheet, depicting orientalist imagery and traditional script, the English text transliterated into Arabic script.
Cultural transaction : Arabic instructions
[Melbourne] : the artist, 2017. Black lettered charcoal solander box (525 x 350 mm) housing 24 cyanotype bifolia, each measuring 500 x 660 mm (central fold), the first with letterpress title, each cyanotype printed recto and verso to the sheet, depicting orientalist imagery and traditional script, the Arabic text transliterated into Roman script.
In this series of interrelated pieces, Hitti draws our attention to the ways Europeans have engaged with the Arab world.
‘Towla contains instructions [for the game of] backgammon that have been phonetically translated using the Arabic and Latin alphabets. The Arabic letters spell the instructions in English and the Latin letters spell the instructions in Arabic. The artist co-wrote the translations with her late father Antonios El Hitti and her close friend Katarina Achkar.’ (colophon).
Using the device of the backgammon set, which originated in the Middle East but has huge popularity in the West, Hitti presents an intercultural dialogue between the Arab and European worlds. A set of instructions is presented in Arabic using Roman script, and then repeated in English using Arabic script. Within the screenprinted backdrop of the set of backgammon, Hitti’s work comments on the similarities of the two cultures despite the obvious differences of language and script.
The elements of Cultural transaction may be explored housed in their folios, or mounted vertically as seen here to present a visually stunning installation which measured over 3 x 6 metres when hung. A highly relevant work by Hitti, who is of Australian-Lebanese heritage, on the duality of cultural identity that is felt by so many Australians from migrant families.
Copies of the artist’s book Towla are also available singly for $3200.