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September 1, 2009

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Arabesques and flying carpets in art installation

FLYING carpets hang from the ceiling, flow over staircases or float in a pool in an art installation project titled "The Global Arabesque."

The project by German artist Michaela Rotsch is underway at Shanghai Donghua University.

Rotsch's arabesque is not the swirling ornamental pattern with which most people are familiar, but rather it's an angular geometric design printed on brightly colored carpets and other structures throughout the exhibition space.

She calls it the "invention of arabesque" and says the special symbol is inspired by the movie "Gattaca" (1997) about developing the perfect gene for the perfect human being.

"I conjured this unique symbol and called it arabesque, because it represents the ideal distance between men," Rotsch says. "Yet when a cluster of symbols are arranged differently, the distance might appear not so perfect."

The idea of her work is to reveal perfection hidden beneath the surface of imperfection, she says. It involves "initiation and participation" and the principle of "gaps and sine curves."

"The Global Arabesque" has already unfolded in Germany, Morocco and India. China is the fourth stop.

The irregular symbols, sometimes in pairs or groups, are embroidered on 24 carpets unfurled in the lobby of a building.

"My aim with this project is to support and visualize the exchange between different cultures with the arabesque organizations and structures," Rotsch says.

"I was moved when I saw her works in Germany," says Zhou Ziyi, Rotsch's project manager in China. "So we worked together to introduce the concept of arabesque to more people in China."

The arabesque project is both an art exhibit and installation and workshop with Donghua University.

Eleven students will fuse Rotsch's arabesque symbol into the photos of street scenes, says Zhou.

"The students are eager to see the outcome of the pictures, as they are developing a new environment for the arabesque symbol."

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