By Islam Aly
Cedar Falls, Iowa: Islam Aly, 2017. Edition of 40.
One book, 5 x 8 x 1.75", with ten sections of four folios, plus 5 miniature books attached by leather wrappings, each 1.5 x 1.5 x 0.75", with five sections of three folios. Materials: laser-cut mold-made Johannot paper; laser-engraved wooden boards. Coptic binding with leather wrappings connected to five small books. Signed, numbered, and dated by the artist.
Islam Aly: "Fantastic Fauna is a bilingual book in English and Arabic, based on the tradition of having animal characteristics as caricatures of humans. The book was inspired from Ibn Al Mqufas's Kalila and Dimna, a ninth-century collection of animal fables, which came to Persia from India. Similar to George Orwell's political allegory Animal Farm, the stories are about people and politics. The animal characters were used to represent social inequality and oppression.
"Fantastic Fauna shows animal images from medieval Islamic artwork that depict imaginary and real animals. The book offers the reader with a different reality where the words describing the animals are not in the main book but inside the miniature books. The reader will be intrigued to find differences and connections between images and words, animal and human characters. The book ends with George Orwell's quotation: 'All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.'"