Posted on March 21, 2019
In your light, I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you,
but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.
A 13th-century Persian poet who loved to dance while reciting his poetry, Rumi is believed to be the inspiration and founder of Whirling Dervishes, a Sufi religious sect known for their hypnotic spinning dances.
It was at a Whirling Dervish dance performance in Istanbul, where Linda Hollier experienced a transformative insight and awareness.
“I became very aware of the concept of being still and in motion, of moving and staying in the present, and I needed to capture that essence.”
Linda, a South African artist based in Abu Dhabi, had been dabbling with mobile art for a while. She captured images of buildings and architecture on her iPhone and turned them into abstract art using a range of apps.
“I’ve always loved photography. The first thing I ever asked for as a child was to have a camera. As an expat, I’ve always been on the move, and I loved capturing the things I see and experience. The advent of mobile photo editing apps and Instagram opened up a new world to me.”
Mobile art is a perfect combination of Linda’s love for mindfulness meditation, art and technology. She expresses her thoughts, observations and wisdom perfectly in her blog here2here, started in 2011.
“Mindfulness means being present, being in the moment. Smartphone technology means I can be present with someone without being in the same physical space. It is a connection. It also means that I can be ‘here’ and you can be ‘here’ in cyberspace.”
Linda appreciates the irony of using an iPhone for mindfulness. Many people use a phone to escape – to not be present. To be neither here nor there, yet for Linda, her ever-present iPhone is a tool to connect to the here and now. “Technology creates a bridge, not only for connection but also for ideas.” Linda applies the analogy of the Whirling Dervishes of being still and being mobile at the same time to her use of her phone. A bridge is rooted, yet it allows movement and connection.
Whirling Dervishes create movement with intent. They always turn anti-clockwise with the palm of their right hand facing up, receiving blessings from above, and the palm of their left hand facing down, transmitting those blessings to earth in servitude. They regard themselves as conduits (bridges) of blessing.
Although they are spinning, creating great energy around them, they are always mindful. Mindful of their speed, their place, their surroundings, their music and their fellow dancers. They have one foot rooted to the ground and the other foot creating momentum and energy.
Linda uses these same principles of movement and stillness when capturing her images. She photographs people in motion, usually from behind, or from the side as not to interfere with their energy of movement yet observing and capturing the moment in space and time.
“I photograph energy, not people.”
Her images are then altered and manipulated to disguise the identity of the person and to highlight and celebrate the movement, the energy and the flow. She reveals the spirit of the whirling dervish in the movement and energy of the clothes while at the same time emphasising the stillness and rootedness of the person in space and time.
Linda creates all her images with her iPhone only. No tablets or laptops. She then has the artworks printed on reclaimed wood, symbolising rootedness and the connection between technology and mindfulness.
Linda has also printed some of her work on Ethiopian prayer shawls.
“I photographed a group of Ethiopian women in Rome at a religious gathering. Their connectedness and the overwhelming sense of belonging emanating from their Ethiopian garments in this unlikely place had tears streaming down my face – I was transfixed.”
These printed shawls have now turned into an art project on its own. Linda photographs people holding these shawls everywhere she goes. She calls it #interact2connect: as the acts of strangers posing with these shawls create a connection – with her, with the shawl, with the viewer. Linda believes that the mere act of interacting with a piece of art, with holding and touching it, creates a bridge, a connection and interaction.
Like Rumi who danced while reciting his poems, Linda dances while creating her art. She is the embodiment of being still and being in motion. A true mobile artist.
Linda’s art is represented by Akka Project Dubai-Venezia, in Al Quoz, Dubai.