Spirituality & Modernity in Two Umayyad Mosques
Said Nuseibeh

September – November 2007

In this series of photographs, Said Nuseibeh attempts to communicate the magnificent and mystical aura that pervades two majestic mosques: the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Emphasizing the ethereal – the radiance of light and the foil of shadow – rather than the architecture itself or its historic episode, Nuseibeh sees these mosques not as dilapidated ruins of a bygone era but as touchstones to a creative civilization. Built as celebrations of a transcendental closeness to the divine, the mosques possess a radiant energy and architectural significance that Nuseibeh's photographs vividly reveal. "A meager preservation exercise," his images serve as a memorial to a forgotten people as well as a torch to the living, showing the wonders awaiting those who forestall the erosion of our past. Spirituality and Modernity in Two Umayyad Mosques is thus the product of Nuseibeh's "struggle to articulate revelation in Bilad al-Sham."

Conceived in Jerusalem and born in San Francisco, Nuseibeh is a professional photographer who balances his fine art work with commercial assignments. He has been photographing and exhibiting since the age of thirteen. Nuseibeh had the first photography exhibition at The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts in 1986, displaying his views of Wadi Rum and of the pastoral life of the Huweitat tribe. In 1996, he published a book in English and French entitled "The Dome of the Rock," featuring his photographs of the 7th century Umayyad mosaics which adorn this holy site. The photographs were exhibited at Darat al Funun in 2002. Recently the recipient of a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship, Nuseibeh has been traveling throughout Bilad al Sham, exploring the Umayyad aesthetic legacy of the region. He currently shuttles between Amman, Damascus, and San Francisco.