Majlis Talk: Lydia Yee In Conversation with Rana Begum and Marina Tabassum

Phoenix Will Rise

Rana Begum & Marina Tabassum 

A simple, white façade — composed of a rectangular base supporting an inverted trapezoid — conceals what lies within. Like Marina Tabassum’s Bait Ur Rouf Mosque, a humble brick building designed as a refuge for meditation and prayer in a crowded Dhaka neighbourhood, Phoenix Will Rise also reveals its spiritual aspect once you enter the space. “I could feel the goose bumps rise from this experience of light and material coming together to create a space for thought, calm, and meditation,” says Rana Begum of her visit to the mosque. Light, alongside colour and form, are fundamental parts of Begum’s practice, drawing parallels with Tabassum’s architectural ethos. There was an obvious need for the architect and the artist to create something tangible together.

Phoenix Will Rise is an environment that people can experience. The pair explored the idea of building a space led by contrasting experiences, at once brutal and ethereal, hard and sensitive, grey and colourful, dark and light, intense and meditative. Begum and Tabassum imagined how architecture could protect us, yet still connect us to the outside world.

The brutal exterior may appear uninviting at first glance, but glimpses of colour and texture can be seen through gaps in the breeze blocks. On the inside, light is picked up on the faceted surfaces, seemingly describing an otherworldly landscape. The installation encourages visitors to consider the benefits of a spiritual and contemplative space, and grants a moment to think of a better tomorrow.