The Nomadic Mosque project explores various ways of negotiating spatial relationships between Islamic traditions and modernity in the US and Western Europe. Through the design of wearable mosques, clothes that can be transformed into prayer-rugs, the project examines the notion of the mosque space and investigates its formal limits. Whereas it respects religious restrictions, the Nomadic Mosque aims to redefine traditional forms and functions of mosques in the contemporary context. These thoughts thus contribute to an architectural interpretation of the religion of Islam, understanding it not as a static concept, which it often claims to be, but rather as a dynamic process that allows change in time and place.
The project reinterprets the concept of the World as a Mosque, as defined by the Prophet Mohammed, as wearable architecture. The Nomadic Mosque can thus be seen as a minimal-volume mosque, whose design is based on individual needs and experiences of the worshipper. It is a device to transform any secular space into a prayer space. Not only does the wearable mosque accommodate the liturgical necessities, but also acts as a prosthetic device of the worshipper communicating his/her prayers: problems, needs and desires. The project entails a prototype design for a wearable mosque and a 10 min. video that shows ritual prayer in various public spaces with Muslim students at MIT. Allowing for the new young Islamic community to speak out, the Nomadic Mosque becomes both, a pro-vocative statement for religious revival and against prejudice. However, this statement is dependent on the process of wearing, which can only happen if Muslims themselves recognize the basic ideological elasticity of Islam, which not only allows, but also calls for its own change and progress.
Azra Akšamija, Nomadic Mosque, 2005
Video Credits: Directed and edited by: Azra Akšamija. Camera: Andreas Mayer. Prayer participants: Abdurrahman O. Kandil, Mariam Kandil, Nadeem A. Mazen, Anonymus participant at Revere Beach. Photo Credits: © Azra Akšamija and Jörg Mohr 2005. Photo: Jörg Mohr. Light: Martin Zoigner, Andreas Mayer, Reno Rieger. Studio and Equipment: Dopplinger Light & GripVienna. Thanks to: Khadija Zinnenburg Carroll, Rahkeen Gray, Andreas Mayer, Kyong Park, Marjetica Potrc, Nasser Rabbat, Irvin C. Schick, Krzysztof Wodizcko, Interrogative Design Workshop, MIT Muslim Students Association. Produced in 2005 within the Interrogative Design Workshop at MIT led by Krzysztof Wodizcko.