12th-century. Sicily. Muhammad al-Idrīsī is composing the most advanced work of medieval geography during his stay at the court of King Roger II. The King commissioned him with an ambitious task, the composition of a map of the whole empire. Thus, he has travelled to collect stories and information from beyond the horizon, to chart the limits of the ‘known world’. His alchemical approach to geography employs fluid, uncommon measurements of reality. Using sensorial and experiential methods he makes the map through the embodiment of the landscape. He is journeying through the Sicilian landscape, travelling towards Balarm (Palermo). At court, Roger II lays on a bed, in an unclear state of deep sleep or death. His eyes spur fire, waiting to see the map. During their, encounter Idrisi transmits the map placing his hands on the king’s eyes.
Kitab Nuzhat al-mushtāq fī ikhtirāq al-āfāq (the book of the Pleasure Excursion of One Who Is Eager to Traverse the Horizons of the World) or Latinised Tabula Rogeriana (the book of Roger), is considered the most comprehensive work of Medieval geography. Al-Idrīsī completed the book in January 1154, shortly before Roger’s death. In compiling it, al-Idrīsī combined material from Arabic and Greek geographic works with information obtained through firsthand observation and eyewitness reports.
The Medici press in Rome published an abridgement of Kitāb nuzhat al-mushtāq in 1592; a Latin translation was published under the title Geographia Nubiensis. A German scholar, Konrad Miller, published the maps in his Mappe Arabicae (1926–31), and later an emended world map, based upon Miller’s work, was published by the Iraq Academy (Baghdad, 1951).
DoP Digital: Marijn Degenaar
DoP Analog: Daphné Heretakis
Sound Engineer: Andrés Garcia Vidal
Costumes: Andrea Colombo / nono leni
Al-Idrisi: Chadli Aloui
Assistant: Tomás Ornaghi
Catering: Ivan Baratto
Field production: Landescape, Leonardo Ruvolo, Mario Adamo
Many thanks to Ahmed Laamiri, Francesco Surdi, Gaetano Ruvolo, Lu Klassen, Francesco Stabile, Franca Zannoni, Nerina Romano, Francesca Piovesano, Noam Toran, Ersi Danou and Viktoras Gogas.
‘We are about to begin a drift that is not yet written on our maps. The North becomes the South, the West becomes the East…Every object falls towards this ground, somehow without resistance.’