Diana Al-Hadid. Cavernous Interiors

Excerpt from Diana Al-Hadid’s lecture “The Beginnings of an Idea,” part of Hyperallergic’s series The Lost Lectures, Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York, June 6, 2015. Courtesy of The Lost Lectures.

Diana Al-Hadid returned to the Middle East on occasion as a teenager. On one visit to Lebanon, she explored Jeita Grotto, an expansive underground cave with impressive limestone stalagmites and stalactites and an enchanting subterranean river of emerald water. Inspired by the cave’s internal universe, the artist began building large-scale structures she could walk through. She started by stapling paper plates together—an idea she borrowed from a Halloween costume her mother had made her as a child—to make a cavernous installation with a pebbly surface reminiscent of Jeita Grotto.1 While studying sculpture in graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University, the artist continued to create environments. Interested in how she might use a single plane—like those early stapled sheets of paper plates—to build “an imaginary world that relies on its own internal logic,”2 Al-Hadid constructed her thesis installation Magic Mountain (2005), a large-scale sculpture that was both a landscape and an inhabitable space.

  1. “Creating a Spatial and Psychological Terrain: Artist Diana Al-Hadid,” 360: Artists, Critics, Curators Speaker Series, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, October 22, 2011, video, 1:00:54 hours, available at youtube.com/watch?v=xXKKXA-k0lo. ↩︎

  2. Diana Al-Hadid, “Magic Mountain” (MFA thesis, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2005), 1, available at doi.org/10.25772/F2PW-4H55. ↩︎