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Yellow Beings

From Book (Translating Libya – The Modern Libyan Short Story)
By Ethan Chorin- Writer and American Translator

(Mohammad Bin Lamin’s Yellow Beings)

A few weeks after I arrived back in Washington, Lamia El-Makki (author of ‘Tripoli Story’) sent me a link to the website of Libyan artist Mohammad Bin Lamin. I’d seen various pieces of Libyan art, some good, some not so good; all, like Libyan literature, somewhat haunting. Bin Lamin’s work, however, was singular. I was struck in particular by a group of paintings under the heading (Yellow Being). They were both outlandish and colorful, sort of a cross between Dali and Rothco, flavored with desert and sun. One piece, depicting a creature walking with a staff, his hair wild, I imagined to be the kindly alter-ego of the evil Marabout in ‘The Yellow Rock’. When I asked Bin Lamin where his Yellow Beings come from, he was open to suggestion: ‘They are spiritual beings,’ he offered, ‘somehow bound up with the miracle of existence. Perhaps they are leaves which have fallen from an old tree that is no longer there, or people who have yellowed with maturity.’ Bin Lamin insisted the Yellow Beings were ‘not Libyan in particular’, but in Bin Lamin and his work I thought I saw something quintessentially Libyan. If Bin Lamin were a writer, I’d no doubt have included his stories here.

Perhaps the Yellow Beings do indeed have some magic about them, for a month after I returned to the States; Bin Lamin inadvertently solved our last remaining problem when he asked if I would look over a few stories by a friend. At that point, Basem and I had basically given up on finding that one story with reference to the ‘most beautiful place in all of Libya’. I thought I had come close when the septuagenarian owner of a newly-opened used bookstore in Tripoli’s Old City told me knew someone in the area who wrote short stories, but it was not to be. With its timely and detailed descriptions of Darnah and its environs, Abdalla Ali Al-Ghazal’s ‘The Mute’ would constitute the final piece of our geographic jigsaw puzzle.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. binlamin
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 02:04:56

    Reply

  2. hego
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 02:52:05

    What an impressive blog! Your art clearly shows what you stood for and what you will always stand for – and that’s humanity!!!! God bless you, dear friend Mohammad! I bow, HEGO

    Reply

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