Harrow Mosque


Jamaat (2020) 

Made in collaboration with Harrow Central Mosque community, Jamaat performs the main prayer hall through the use of a motorized recording/display device in situ, enabling an exact transfer of scale and time as the projected image maps the architectural site. The site-integral motorized rig is essentially designed to obtain a 1:1 ratio between image and site.

Harrow Central Mosque is a major architectural landmark and one of the biggest mosques in the country. It started life through the adaptation of a pair of semi-detached 1930’s houses. The house-mosque was modified and enlarged throughout its life, until it could no longer accommodate the size of the Muslim community, and the adjacent site was purchased and the new mosque built.

The mosque itself has 5 floors, all floors are accessible by stairs and by lift for the disabled and elderly, there are two separate lifts in the Mosque. One intended for Men and one intended for Women which leads directly into the Womens prayer hall. We were not granted permission to film in the female prayer space. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, gathering close together in large congregations has been unsafe, so Harrow Mosque introduced safe distance measures, using tape to mark where each prayer mat should go.

Image of congregation in prayer while practising social distancing.

See above: Elevation of track and motorised rig for main prayer hall.

Project technicians Jonny Fuller-Rowell and Johnny Titheridge install track in main prayer hall.

Rig Design of track and dolly with spring loaded carbon contacts

A member of the congregation assists with filming before congregational prayer at Harrow Mosque.

See above: Film of congregational prayer in Harrow Mosque

This site-performance seeks to understand the social, religious, cultural and environmental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the Muslim community. For many Muslims, the Friday Jumuah Prayer is the one opportunity in the week to learn and attain spiritual reinvigoration. Using Harrow Mosque as a case study, this artwork seeks to record and perform the social practices taking place during this health crisis, critically reflecting on the social distancing measures enforced during the performance of Friday congregational prayer. Individual prayer mats are used instead of the mosque carpet, allowing social distancing to take place. A portable sacred ground that can be used at any time, isolating worshippers from their immediate surroundings, transporting them symbolically elsewhere.

Above, a detail of moving projection in the main prayer hall at Harrow Mosque

Due to COVID-19 a socially distanced performance of Jamaat took place for the congregation providing an opportunity for the mosque community to experience the artwork in the main prayer hall. The most striking result of the site-performance is that it gives the congregation a new view of themselves at prayer. Watching the ghostly images of themselves shot from above, made the congregation aware of actions that had been unconscious or routine and found in them an unexpected interest and beauty.