Ayman Yossri Daydban’s Subtitles series uses carefully chosen stills from subtitled movies, creating new meanings from the productive tension between image and text. While subtitles usually function to translate the dialogue of a film, isolated from their original context and larger narrative, the words instead become pseudo-titles for the image, affording us new interpretations and understandings of it.
If God Willing, All Will Be Restored (2022) is an extension of this series in the form of a large-scale architectural intervention. In this work for Noor Riyadh, Daydban subverts the role of the subtitle further by extrapolating it from the screen and placing it into real life. The commonly used phrase “Inshallah” or “God Willing” is rendered in large neon text, fixed to the rooftop of the derelict Irqah Hospital in Riyadh, which looms over the abandoned cityscape around it, now devoid of life.
As a subtext, the work recasts a familiar city scene and opens it up to new possibilities. It presents a certain irony, a humorous entry point, perhaps, into our modern-day reality of a perpetually broken world. “Yet, as we circle the rubble”, the artist says, “we live in hope that someday, God Willing, all will indeed be restored.”