Jens Haaning: A Grain of Wheat

In the years of heightened fear and suspicion that followed 9/11, Arabic script is met by many in the U.S. with some trepidation, a fact Danish artist Jens Haaning leveraged in a public art piece he created in New York last fall. Haaning wheat-pasted a series of posters bearing Arabic text throughout the city. The content would be familiar to many in the Middle East, not as a fatwa or a call to prayer, but as a joke -- and an incisive, timely one at that.

Here's a translation:
A Grain of Wheat

When Guha lost his mind, he started to believe that he was a grain of wheat. His biggest fear was that a chicken would eat him. His wife became tired and persuaded him to see a doctor, which he did. The doctor sent him to a mental hospital.

After a short while, it seemed as though Guha had recovered and regained his sanity. His wife fetched him from the hospital and walked him back home. On the way home, Guha saw some chickens walking on the road. He became very frightened and tried to hide behind his wife.

The wife could not understand what had got into him as they had just left the hospital and shouted at him: "What the hell do you think you are doing? Don’t you understand that you’re not a grain of wheat anymore?"

Guha replied in anguish, "It doesn’t matter what I think! The important thing is whether these bloody chickens understand that I am not a grain of wheat."

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