Commemorating 'a living memory' by Ica Wahbeh (November 2008)


Jordan Times November 5th 2008


"Living in this 'blessed neighborhood', as the Holy Koran refers to the land of Jordan that has given refuge to so many, I felt inspired to create an artist's impression of that legacy. I wasn't sure how, until I stumbled across an old photograph of the young King Hussein and from there, 'King Hussein Bin Talal.

This is artist Dodi Tabbaa's profession of faith, the explanation for the photo exhibition she is holding at Zara Centre, off Wadi Saqra, to "commemorate the birthday of His Majesty the late King Hussein BinTalal".

On display - and a lively, stirring display it is - is a "series of photo collages depicting the early years of King Hussein's life, on to the present reign of His Majesty KingAbdullah II".

Like a roll of film unreeled at fast speed, the images, all digitally and manually manipulated, succeed each other, repeat themselves, assume thumbnail or large portrait dimension, in an alternation of colour and movement that gives a highly artistic aspect to the whole.

Standing out larger, in brighter colours, in the sea of small images, a striking face suddenly arrests the eye, makes it linger trying to grasp a facial expression.

Wearing different attire - military, civilian, hatta and 'aghal, standing at a podium, atop a car, in the cockpit of his plane, happy, waving, solemn or stern - King Hussein is brought back to memory with his warm smile and charming bearing, the father, brother, leader of a people who adored him.


The photo etching display, occasionally interspersed with quotes - words of wisdom from wise leaders - brings back vivid images and memories of a beloved king, revive history and reinforce the present.

"My dearest wish is for the verdict of future generations to be for me and not against me, since I realise that shouldering responsibility at this point in time entails an acceptance of life's voyage under the most difficult circumstances, which are viciously inimical to those with a great heart and living conscience," reads one quote by King Hussein.

His life voyage was long and a great heart was indeed put into it. There was never doubt about the verdict of the future generations, and the photos on display poignantly bring to mind memories of a proud leader, benevolent king, kind, caring father, of the young man and the man in the twilight of his life, and of his accomplishments that were brightly projected on the country.

"Real victories are those that protect human life, not those that result from its destruction or emerge from its ashes," said King Hussein.
Life in this country was and is protected; its people are privileged to have had him at the helm and immensely privileged to be now led by another caring leader, King Abdullah II.

Befittingly, King Abdullah's images present at the exhibition are equally gripping.

Taking on the helm, the King took the country forward, bringing it into the 21st century with the same fatherly care and wisdom that characterised his father's reign.

"Some people say we must create a better tomorrow for our youth. I say we must create a better today," says King Abdullah, and that is indeed happening.

With his father, alone, in a myriad of postures and attire, King Abdullah's image is living proof of the Hashemite legacy.

A group of floral photos, delicate plants coloured by the artist the way she "would want them to be", creates a fresh corner, "The Hashemite oasis", symbolic of the country which has been a sanctuary of peace and tranquility, a haven for waves of unfortunate refugees, a safe place to live in, all due to sagacious leaders.

Most of the photographs at the exhibition were provided by the media office of the Royal Hashemite Court and the archives of the King Hussein Foundation.

Proceeds from the sale will benefit The King Hussein Foundation, The King Hussein Cancer Foundation, and The National Association for the Mentally Handicapped.

The artist worked to create "individual art pieces projecting aesthetics and photo imagery that I hope the viewer will find as pleasing as it was for me to create.”

It is indeed an uplifting display into the making of which much effort and artistic mastery was put. The artworks are on display starting today until November 20.

- a living memory' suddenly became a reality."