Voiciferous

A small black arrow indicating the direction of Mecca on a metal shelf inside a cell at Camp 1 (Guantanamo article)

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A mis-spelt word of the week forming a crucifix by the side of a road in Somerset. 

voiciferous

 

Voices. Stefan Kaegi sent this info about his fascinating new show being tried out today in Cairo. It’s great to see the piece is going ahead, as it sounded like getting permission was tough, politically and otherwise. 

 

Radio Muezzin

A freed slave became the first muezzin because he had a honey-sweet voice. Muezzins climb the minaret to make the call to prayer, the Adhan, to all four points of the compass across the city. Until the 1950s, many of them were blind. 

In Cairo today, most muezzins are government employees who often sleep in the mosques and rarely visit their families, who still live in villages. As well as being responsible for the call to prayer, they are also often caretakers of the place of worship, opening and closing it and organising its cleaning. 

Their calls mingle above Cairo, the “city of a thousand mosques” (there are actually about 30,000), forming a multifaceted tapestry of sound. This is however about to change. The Minister of Religious Foundations wants to introduce a centralised muezzin next year. A radio station will broadcast around 30 selected muezzins on a radio channel and they will be simultaneously transmitted from all government mosques. This won’t abolish the diversity of prayer cultures, but the cacophony will be abolished. Will thousands of Egyptian muezzins fall silent?

“Radio Muezzin” focuses on four muezzins: a blind Koran teacher who travels to the mosque in a minibus for two hours every day; a farmer’s son and former tank driver from Upper Egypt, who vacuums the carpet in his mosque; an electrician, who began to learn the Koran by heart after life as a migrant worker in Saudi Arabia and a serious accident, and a bodybuilder and runner-up world champion in Koran recitation, whose Koran cassettes are very popular with taxi drivers. “Radio Muezzin” has them meet an engineer who learned to encode radio signals at the Aswan dam. In a mosque made of carpets and fans, they become the ‘leading men’ in reconstructions of their own lives, personal representatives of a religious culture whose many faces are often reduced to simple antagonistic figures in Europe. Between their words and the video images of their daily lives emerge new voice images that describe the transformation of the call to prayer in the age of technical reproduction.   

Full info here

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