The title, The Seven Sleepers, refers to one of the most famous Sura in the Koran. The 18th Sura ‘The Cave’ evokes the retreat from daily life, sleep, the resurrection and connects Christian and Muslim traditions. (The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus refer to saints that are honoured both in Islam and Christianity).
The work is a collection of English and French texts by John Berger, Michel Butor, Hélène Cixous, Sylvie Germain, Nancy Huston, Alberto Manguel and Leïla Sebbar translated and written in illuminated Arabic calligraphic lettering. The writers selected by the artist are Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Atheist. The texts pay tribute to the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, murdered on 21th May 1996. There is also a facsimile of the letter written by Father Christian, the Abbot, just before their deaths. Etched engravings by Rachid Koraïchi accompany the texts. Each book bears the name of one of the Seven Monks: Father Christian, Brother Christophe, Brother Luc, Brother Michel, Brother Bruno, Brother Célestin and Brother Paul.
These seven pieces of art were exhibited for the first time on 30th December 2003 at the Abbey of Aiguebelle in France, the Monastery of Thibirine, at the Cathedral of Algiers and to Pope John Paul II by Archbishop of Algiers, Monsignor Henri Tessier.