المدونة المصاحبة للبينالي
Extra-Biennial Blog

caffeinated cairo nights

Fortunately we pushed through jet-lag and stayed awake later than 9pm, and got to see a couple of the Photo Cairo venues at tonight’s opening.  Townhouse was a central scene, with 2 galleries showing a lot of work, including much video, which was a great move for a photo show.  Hassan Khan’s “The Hidden Location,” a 4-channel video installation weaving together multiple semi-narrative threads, made a strong impression.  Alex and I walked with Dalia from Townhouse and some of her cool Cairo friends to a hard-to-find spot, Downtown Apartment, which, as you my reader can imagine, is a downtown apartment turned into an exhibition space.  The show there was very strong, including a familiar piece from hometown colleagues Julia Meltzer and David Thorne, and some other good stuff.  A strong performance oriented video by Doa Aly with dancers moving in unison attracted an attentive audience, and a very watchable Polish video about artists painting, repainting, burning, destroying, recovering, and painting political slogans on a canvas was amusing.  That was by Artur Zmijewski (excuse my lack of appropriate diacritical marks, I don’t know how to put a dot over a Z).  

My first art opening in the Islamic World: though Townhouse quitely serves beer in the back, Pepsi is the norm overall.  I’m still not sure how a society functions without alcohol, but obviously it does in some way.  Or does it?  Or could it be the alcoholic societies that are dysfunctional?  I’m too tired to judge.

2 Responses to “caffeinated cairo nights”

  1. edit Says:

    the comment that Artur Žmijewski’s video is “a very watchable polish video” is, i’m afraid, a surprisingly uninformed remark on this piece that was obviously completely misunderstood by the blogger.
    So just for precision:

    Artur Žmijewski became renowned in the international art world as someone having a special interest in confronting the viewers with conflicting situations, deep existential and ideological dramas. His 2007 video, Them, is an experiment in which members of special social groups attend a workshop together.
    During the session, the artist positions himself as a humble animator, assigning different tasks to the participants, asking them to defend their position, or to build a structure that symbolises their ideological stands. The situation triggers heated debates between the representatives of a conservative group, patriotic Catholics, nationalist Polish youth, leftist socialists, democrats and activists. It starts as a set of negotiations that lead to a severe fight, a kind of war on the symbolic field that merges into reality that manifests with violent acts that end in complete destruction.

  2. dina Says:

    to approach photocairo4 as “My first art opening in the Islamic World” and to frame the final paragraph through the binary of “functional” and “dysfunctional” societies is extremely superficial and problematic. one would have hoped an artist about to embark on a project in cairo would have presented a more nuanced and complex reading