Interstellar Uber/Negotiations with God, Saba Taj (Durham, NC)
Southern Constellations Fellowship. July 2017. Mannequins, roller skates, fabric, baubles, pre-made fabric clouds, wigs, bottle caps, ghosts.

Interstellar Uber // Negotiations with God is a kinetic Buraq sculpture that resides in Elsewhere’s Ghost Room. The Buraq (meaning sparkle, or lightning) is the steed that Prophet Muhammad rode during his “Night Journey” from Mecca to Jerusalem around 610 AD, and then to the seven levels of Heaven. The journey to the Heavens is known as Al-Mi’raj, or the Ascension.

There is some question of whether Al Mi’raj was an actual journey or only a spiritual one. The Buraq interests Taj as a creature that embodies the in-between, questioning categorical interpretations of reality both in concept and in form. A figure transformed through collective imaginations and art over time, she has become a stylized chimera and patron of travel. This 3-D assemblage of the Buraq reminisces Taj’s 2-D collage work, which echoes themes of diaspora and hybridity with inspiration from Islamic stories.

Taj chose to build Interstellar in the Ghost Room because, as the most haunted corner of Elsewhere, it is the space most closely connected to the otherworlds. This space is where the physical and spiritual meet, and where borders and binaries, even those between living and dead, are called into question. The Buraq is most comfortable in the most liminal of locations, but even then, she’s only passing through.