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Music for Drifting is a multi-channel sound installation composed of recordings of a messenger bird’s travels between five locations along the Mediterranean Sea and the Western Desert in the area of the north coast of Egypt in August 2013. These locations include an old port on the edge of Alexandria, a hill from the Battle of Alamein, a glass desert formed by a meteorite shower 200,000 years ago, and an empty plot consigned to a future as a nuclear power plant. “A total of five recordings come together into a study of rhythm. Four of them have been made in specific locations in Egypt that have, both historically and culturally, forced novel approaches to the relation between time and space—such as a green glass desert formed by a meteorite shower from 200,000 years ago, a magnetic field, a salt flat, or the site of a future nuclear plant. The stereophonic field studies of these sites often dropped from the collective memory delve into one place and evoke, through sound, the charged experiences that they have catalyzed. The fifth recording by contrast, deals with distance and travel and is made by a messenger bird. Together with the recorded ‘soundtrack’ of the bird‘s own trajectory between Alexandria to Cairo, each recording arrives at a musician‘s studio, where the sounds of the flight are used for another track.  Rhythm is a type of measure, it is part of a day-to-day reality and it brings together duration and place. In Music for Drifting, Malak Helmy engages on two levels with rhythm. Starting with her travel to the places to make in-situ recordings of those unique relations between location and time, whether conscious or unconscious, she then also collaborates with musicians to turn the materials into edited tracks that can travel autonomously, on playlists, social platforms etc.” (Sarah Demeuse)

Malak Helmy, born in 1982 in Alexandria, Egypt, is an artist based in Cairo who works with video, text based work, and collective initiatives. Her work has been included in the 9th Mercosul Biennial (2013), Ninth Gwangju Biennial (2012), Documenta 13’s Cairo Seminar (2012), and Art Dubai (2011), amongst others.

Multi-channel sound installation; sound technicians: Malak Helmy, Shady Mohamed; assistant: Mohamed Nabil; mixed and mastered at: 100COPIES Studio, Cairo; thanks to: Maurice Louca; produced by: 9th Mercosul Biennial.

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
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