The Tower of Babel

Detail at base

The idea for this drawing originated from the story of the Tower of Babel. The ziggurat of Sumer in southern Mesopotamia, present day Iraq, is one example of an ancient tower. The Book of Genesis mentions a Tower of Babil in Nimrod’s kingdom in the land of Shinar or Babylon. During the reign of Nimrod in the city of Ur the prophet Abraham lived there with his family. This story is also related in some detail in the Qur’an.  Only the foundations of some of these ancient towers or structures remain and entire cities lie abandoned as ruins.

Today in the Middle East in the city of Dubai the Burj Khalifa exists as the tallest building in the world. This structure dominates the twin Petronas Towers in Malaysia and the Taipei 101 tower in Taiwan. The competition to build higher structures continues from antiquity to present day.

Drawing, 21.5 x 27.9 cm

While working with the original idea I created drawings with different compositions of the jars. The final drawing continues the still life tradition of using symbolism similar to its use in previous times. However, in my drawing the symbols refer to modern technology. I stacked glass jars to represent the tower. The jars are different shapes and sizes and diminish in size as the tower increases in height. This creates the appearance of perspective as would be seen when viewing an actual building. Many modern and contemporary structures are constructed of steel and glass and the tower of glass jars represents this.

Inside the base jar is a light socket with a light bulb and wiring snaking upwards through each jar to the top. The discovery of electricity and the creation of the incandescent light bulb revolutionized technology thus enabling the means to create such large towers. The position of the light bulb at the base of the tower indicates the beginning of this technological revolution but also it is replaced by newer technology. In a sense it has become a relic. Perhaps in time all our modern cities will also become ruins as in ancient times.

The Great Ziggurat, Etemenanki, located in Iraq was rebuilt by Nebuchadanezzar II in the 6th century BC and Alexander the Great later destroyed it only to die before he could have it rebuilt. The destruction of the twin towers of the WTC happened in minutes. A reminder that history is always being repeated.

The Tower of Babel, 2012, drawing

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