Word into Art

This tour brings together the work of contemporary artists from the Middle East and North Africa. The use of writing - quotations, words and even single letters - has emerged as a common theme in this vibrant and original art. Each object presented here is inscribed in or draws its inspiration from Arabic, the main script of the region used to write a variety of languages including Persian.

A Sacred Script looks at artworks which are based around the holy texts of the Qu'ran and the Bible. Literature and Art shows how poetry and the rich literary traditions of the Middle East have inspired artists in different ways. The works in Deconstructing the Word have been created using single words or letters. History, Politics and Identity examines how art has responded to crises and wars that have affected the Middle East. In the entry for each work, the artist's country of origin is cited first after their name, and their current place of residence second.

The tour includes highlights from Word into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East, a free exhibition at the British Museum (Room 35) from 18 May to 3 September 2006. The exhibition draws mainly on works collected by the British Museum, with some loaned objects. It includes pieces by about eighty different artists, some of whom are represented here. This tour shows how writing, so important as both a method of communication and an art form in the ancient and Islamic cultures, continues as a powerful thread running through the art of the region today.

The exhibition was part of Middle East Now, a season of special events which includes lectures, films, poetry readings and music. The exhibition and the season were produced in partnership with Dubai Holding.