Inside the Whale

September 5, 2006

New Drawings Summer 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — noahsimblist @ 4:49 pm

Here are some new drawings that I have been working on over the past few months.

This series of drawings are 30 x 44 inches, acrylic and graphite on paper.





This group of drawings are 48 x 40 inches, gouache and graphite on paper.





September 3, 2006

Inside/Outside the Whale

Filed under: Uncategorized — noahsimblist @ 6:23 pm

Inside/Outside the Whale, is an installation originally exhibited at Brookhaven College in Dallas, TX in 2005, which involved drawings, wall text and sound. The drawings included abstract configurations of religious symbols. They were framed by a set of texts that revolved around the story of Jonah.

360 Degree photo-collage of the show

The texts included the essay Inside the Whale in which George Orwell sets up the story of Jonah as an allegory for the political role of the artist.


Salman Rushdie responded with an essay entitled Outside of the Whale. Rushdie felt that Orwell was arguing that the artist should withdraw into “the belly of the whale” and focus on his own interior life as subject matter. Rushdie objected, arguing that all artists have an inescapable political responsibility.


Edward Said, a Palestinian post-colonial writer acted as referee to this argument in his book Culture and Imperialism but focused on the latent political context from which Rushdie was writing, as a “third world intellectual.”




At a time when ghosts of the crusades and colonialism have risen again with the current engagements of the US in the Middle East, some of Said’s questions regarding positions of East and West have particular resonance for me. So too does the question of the role of the artist in a time of war. My work acts as a frame for dialogues within history and ideology, inherent and hidden in the seeming neutrality of abstract form.

August 29, 2006

On Forgiveness

Filed under: Uncategorized — noahsimblist @ 9:54 pm

This installation was done at the SMU Pollock Gallery in January 2006. It included drawings, wall text, wall painting and a video. The text is excerpted from an essay by Jacques Derrida also titled “On Forgiveness”


The three drawings on the left were integrated into the text, they used iconography including the six-pointed star (often associated with Judaism), the Jerusalem cross (which marked the crusaders), a Kabbalistic symbol for the 10 sephirot, and the swastika (originally a symbol for good luck, commonly found in India)




The text by Derrida was designed by my friend Alex Yang-Muller. Here’s the text:

Pure and unconditional forgiveness, in order to have its own meaning, must have no ‘meaning’, no finality, even no intelligibility. It is a madness of the impossible…

Forgiveness is thus mad. It must plunge, but lucidly, into the night of the unintelligible…

As soon as the victim ‘understands’ the criminal, as soon as she exchanges, speaks, agrees with him, the scene of reconciliation has commenced, and with it this ordinary forgiveness which is anything but forgiveness.

In the radical evil of which we are speaking, and consequently in the enigma of the forgiveness of the unforgivable, there is a sort of ‘madness’, which the juridico-political cannot approach, much less appropriate.

Imagine a victim of terrorism, a person whose children have been deported or had their throats cut, or another whose family was killed in a death oven. Whether she says ‘I forgive’ or ‘I do not forgive’, in either case I am not sure of understanding. I am even sure of not understanding, and in any case I have nothing to say. This zone of experience remains inaccessible, and I must respect its secret…

What I dream of, what I try to think as the ‘purity’ of a forgiveness worthy of its name, would be a forgiveness without power…

Will that be done one day? It is not around the corner, as is said. But since the hypothesis of this unrepresentable task announces itself, be it as a dream for thought, this madness is perhaps not so mad…

J. Derrida

The other wall had the following drawings mounted on a painted wall.

Yellow stars and grey stripes evoke the holocaust; blue stars the symbol of Zionism and the growth of the state of Israel. The use of green, black, white and red is meant to evoke the colors of the Palestinian flag, and the 4 historical caliphates. The six-pointed star is meant not only as a symbol of Judaism but of otherness. I was told by my colleague at SMU, an expert of Jews in medieval Spain, that the hexagram was used interchangeably for both Muslims and Jews, both being “other” than the Christian norm. These signs function within an architecture of intersecting crosses, each built of 7 cubes, a symbol that is both linked to secular enlightenment and mystical sites like the Kaaba in Mecca.




Below is a collage of video stills from a 4 min. video that accompanied the show. It included animated drawings and archival footage from the holocaust, the evolution of the state of Israel and moments from the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.


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