Shell gold, natural pigment and ink on paper
42.0 x 42.0 (cm)
16.5 x 16.5 (inch)In her When it all adds up series, Awartani takes the mathematical system used in the recreational game of magic squares, to explore questions of femininity and masculinity. Magic squares are based on a ritual once thought to hold mystical properties, with references to the use of magic squares in astrological calculations, a practice that is said to have originated in the Middle East and to be rooted in Islamic traditions. On winning this game, the sum of each row, whether it be diagonally, horizontally or vertically, should always be the same. Awartani has recreated the 4 x 4 magic squares using a geometric code that she has developed in place of the numbers.
In Islamic tradition odd numbers are attributed to qualities considered masculine such as rational thought, whereas even numbers are attributed the feminine, for denoting emotional approaches. Due to the fact that God is affiliated with the number 1, odd numbers are more commonly favoured and used in Islamic rituals such as the daily number of prayers or the seven turns around the Ka’aba as part of the Hajj. Awartani has developed masculine and feminine symbols, from stars to floral motifs, where the sum of each petal or point in an illustration will directly correlate with the original numbers of the magic squares. The works touch on the question of women’s role within Islam, the combination of geometric and circular motifs, each essential to the resolution of the puzzle, finding their balance and equilibrium within the structure.