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“Dwelling” and “11.02-2011: The Video Diaries” showing at the Yuchengco Museum, Manila, Philippines

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Two of my video projects Dwelling” (10 minutes, 2010) and “11.02-2011: The Video Diaries” (5 minutes, 2011) have been selected to show at  the Yuchengco Museum, Manila, Philippines as part of the international groups show Nothing to Declare (NTD). NTD is an international art project aiming to contribute to contemporary discussions on migration. It opened at Yuchengco Museum, 16 November and will run till 29 January 2012.

Dwelling (the path of someone who dwelled in the past): 
I originally created this work for the Manifest 8 Biennale in Spain, 2010. It is an experimental video presentation that traces in the docu-fiction genre fragments of the Spanish Arab Andalus and the scholars who originated from its valleys who dwelled through North Africa to their resting places in the East. The figure of Abul Abbas Al Murci is followed from its birth in Murcia’s Ricote Valley to its resting place in Alexandria, Egypt.

11.02-2011: the Video Diaries: This video work was produced for the Mercosul Biennale, Brazil 2011 in a three-channel presentation, and for the Havana Biennale 2012 in a single channel adaptation. The work combines video footage taken with stock footage extracted from social media and from several other sources. These are assembled to create several parallel narratives that intertwine on the three screens as the real footage of collective doing, and sometimes violence. The flux of information disseminated by the media footage, the lack of structured dialogue combined with real sounds from the Tahrir Square, where the 2011 revolution takes place, all are pasted with the sound of solo guitar music. Through this use of music, the idea of “revolution” is romanticized, adding a simulated fictitious atmosphere to the very real footage, to represent intimacy and personal nostalgia” according to the artist.

Nothing to Declare has three constituent exhibitions taking place at three different venues, each with a set of a different curators and artists – in total, 6 curators and 50 artists.

The Yuchengco Museum exhibition is curated by Claro Ramirez, Jr., Sharon Mapa Arriola, Claro Ramirez, Jr is a visual artist and artistic director for Exhibitions and New Media Projects,  Lopez Museum, and faculty, International Baccalaureate Program, Southville International School. Sharon Mapa Arriola is faculty at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde School of Design and Arts.

About Nothing to Declare:
http://www.yuchengcomuseum.org/index.html
http://nothing2declare2011.wordpress.com/

“The A77A Project: On Presidents and Superheroes” opens at the Bamako Biennale for African Photography

November 1, 2011 2 comments

This year, I’ve been invited to show my 2009 work,“The A77A Project: On Presidents and Superheroes”, at the Bamako Biennale for African Photography. It opens in Mali today.
“The A77A Project” is a 3 minute single channel video, combining 2 and 3 D animation and internet extracted imagery.  It’s an ironic investigation into the ‘hybrid’ nature of the Egyptian identity and the social changes that I have personally lived through, both growing up and as an adult in Egypt.

“The A77A Project” explores the complex figure of the ‘super-hero’. From Osiris to Batman, this universal force for good has been created by all civilizations to ward off evil. In this work, two figures come to life on the surface of one of my large-scale paintings. Through cartoon animation, they leave the canvas and posses an unsuspecting passer-by (3D figure) to create Anubis, the jackal headed god of Ancient Egypt, traditionally associated with death and the afterlife.

The newly resurrected Anubis takes us on a walk through the streets of modern Cairo, witnessing paradoxical citizens and situations. These range from the chaotic and comical, to the uncomfortable, as the god strolls past mountainous heaps of refuse, protestors attacked by thugs and citizens pleading with rows of helmeted riot police. Anubis moves through these scenes of poverty and disorder with cool detachment. He is my silent narrator in this matter-of-fact documentation of the current state of the streets of Cairo and the deterioration of a city centre once described as among the most beautiful in the world.

Running as a soundtrack to the god’s journey through Cairo is a looping disco tune and the 1967 resignation speech of former President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Echoing over the desolate scenes of the city, his words remind us of the collapse of the Pan-Arab ideology in a modern Egypt where “the super heroes of religion” have replaced this superhero of the Arab world.

For me “The A77A Project” tackles that ‘difficult to define’ notion of Egyptian identity’ by addressing its main constituent elements: time, past and present, the superhero or the role model, the process of cultural recycling, contemporary visual imagery in their kinetic and static forms and the sacred values versus the neo-consumer values of globalization. These elements really interest me. They have shaped my video and painting work over the past fifteen years.

 In creating “The A77A project” I used images extracted from the internet; I also took my own photos using my telephone and a compact pocket camera that was ready in my canvas bag wherever I went. Most of the time I shot during daylight, as the precision of images was not as important as the overall changing cityscape. I stitched all images in linear pattern to create a single backdrop cityscape where the superheroes would dwell. To complement my work, I incorporated powerful images taken by anonymous authors, removed their backgrounds on Photoshop, and inserted them on the visual track as backdrops for my super heroes.

What intrigues me about this type of “democratized” practice, made available by anyone for everyone, is that it becomes an open source of information, beyond the reach of censorship…” Such widely sourced imagery gives the work a sense of being, not the individual account a single citizen, but a kind of shared or collective experience.

The A77A project has screened at the Artos Foundation, in Nicosia, Cyprus (2009), LUMEN_EX Digital Awards, Spain (2010) and 17th African Film Festival, New Museum, NY, USA (2010).

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