For the vision of Abou Ben Adhem, Yaïr Callender changed the space of 1646 into a sanctuary, a place to withdraw from the hustle and bustle of the street and daily life. Rather than sculptures, he created an environment that offered tranquility for those who want to quench their thirst for peace and serenity. But more than just an architectural construction, this space contained associations with a more ecclesiastical atmosphere by means of a free use of symbolic ornaments and forms that allude to elements such as a pulpit of baptistry. Callender also made references to secular subjects as he offered the visitors the opportunity to leaf through some available books, enjoy a water pipe and hang around for a while. These surroundings contained a versatility of different kinds of sanctuaries and hide-aways to be activated by the visitor at his or her own liking.
The architectural constructions of Yaïr Callender keep somewhere in between ornament, sculpture and monumental composition and are often fuelled by his interest in the spiritual, which plays a pivotal role in his work. He gets his inspiration from both religious texts as well as scientific research and he draws connections to physics, mathematics, geometry as well as to history, religion and the use of symbolism. Furthermore, Callender diligently studies processes of personal transformation from a spiritual perspective. His work doesn’t know the difference between personal concerns and professional performance as personal development finds its form in his work.
For the Vision of Abou Ben Adhem (a reference to a poem by the romantic poet Leigh Hunt) portrayed Callender’s interests in transformation, in several ways: the transformation from child to adult, emotional and intellectual development or transformation as awakening after having been confronted with obstacles in life such as sickness, death, desire or happiness.
It has been very interesting for us to see how, throughout the years, Yaïr has developed more and more the need to include the audience in the work, transmitting an overwhelming experience. This accounted also for For the Vision of Abou Ben Adhem when the work comes into existence when activated by the visitor. This need to include the audience into an overwhelming experience feels very coherent for a work that tries to deal with states of being and topics much bigger than ourselves.