Maha Maamoun and Sarah Rifky: A State of Fluidity (2011)


Sherif El Azma, Egypt 2010, OV, 19 min

In an old-fashioned apartment, in an atmosphere of tension and unease, located somewhere between the real, the uncanny, and a state of dream-like delirium, suggestive symbolism and insinuations fester in dark corners of rooms where RICE CITY unfolds. A self-conscious young woman, anxious, haunts the corridors; we encroach on a young black man lounging in his bed, building a city from blocks; an older man recounts a story of selling rice to his friend, who appears as a ghost. A tight-lipped scene around a dinner table, with its ripples of tension spilling beyond the bounds of this film noir featuring soundtrack, transfixing, full of suspense.

Sherif El Azma lives and works in Cairo. He studied at the Surrey Institute in London and teaches experimental film at the American University in Cairo. His films have been screened at numerous international venues, and featured in Manifesta, Home Works Forum, the Sharjah and Venice Biennales. His works range from the highly experimental to documentary to riffs on the cinematic, often exploring trajectories of psycho-geography, relations and sexuality in relation to the city.

Haris Epaminonda, Cyprus 2006, OV , 4 min

A clip of footage of a hotel room TV, during the artist’s visit to Egypt, a famous Egyptian actress is re-captured, re-edited, in a sequence of close-ups, placed in cuts and repetition, in a contemplative conversation with herself. Accompanied by a piano soundtrack, the displaced emotional pathos extracted from this meditative scene is interrupted by the appearance of identical twins, who look at each other concealing an ominous expression.

Haris Epaminonda works and lives in Berlin. She co-represented Cyprus at the 52nd Venice Biennale and participated in the 5th Berlin Biennale and 9th Sharjah Biennale. Most recently her works have been included amongst others in exhibitions at the MoMA in New York and the Tate Modern in London. Since 2007, Epaminonda has been developing, together with Daniel Gustav Cramer, an ongoing book project called ‘The Infinite Library’.

Solmaz Shahbazi, Germany 2010, OV, 6 min

A near-documentary take of the Giza Zoo, opened to the public in 1891, an early jewel of modernization in Egypt‘s capital city, the zoo marks a nostalgic last vestige of the agricultural hinterlands that once surrounded Cairo. The transformation of public space, the politics that willed the rise, fall and formation of new social classes, encapsulated by this particular site, are droned out, in carefully selected sequences, and a soundtrack emulating the image, completing the viewer‘s fictitious – or rather imaginary – cognition of the Giza Zoo.

Solmaz Shahbazi studied architecture and design at the Stuttgart Academy of Art and Design. Her works have been shown a the 7th Sharjah Biennial, the 9th International Istanbul Bienniale and the 1st Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art. Since 2001, Shahbazi’s works have been exhibited widely in Europe, the United States and the Middle East.

Vartan Avakian, Lebanon 2009,
Eng. subtitles, 7 min
‘Some cities have no voice.’ – Vartan Avakian

Vartan Avakian is a Beirut-based visual artist. In his interdisciplinary work, he employs video, installation, photography and other media. He studied communication arts at Lebanese American University and architecture and urban culture at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), and at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. Avakian is a founding member of the art collective Atfal Ahdath.

Eslam Zeen El Abedeen und Mohamed Zayan, Egypt 2009, OV, 5 min

Something is about to explode: Zayan and Abedeen break out in a rhapsodic dialogue, seizing the power of a popular life on the brink of implosion. Charged and charging, the deliberate performance in the absence of their instruments transposes pathos and agency. The video has best been described as ‘part-tribute, part-elegy’ to Egypt’s population of eighty million people.

Mohamed Zayan and Eslam Zeen El Abedeen live and work in Cairo. Zayan studied at the Cairo Higher Institute of Applied Arts, and has participated in a number of group shows. Zeen El Abedeen has participated in various workshops, including the 20th Youth Salon in Cairo. Together, the artists were jointly awarded the Golden Prize for their work 80 MILLION, which premiered at the 20th Youth Salon in 2009.

Basim Magdy, Egypt 2010, OV, 5 min

The artist films his father while re-enacting Diogenes the Cynic’s philosophical stunt, in which he wanders around an arid landscape with a lit lamp in daytime, claiming to look for an honest man. The film is shot on an open site with unfinished glass buildings, insignia of the new architectural prototypes of the New Cairo, a rising city on the outskirts, complete with archaeological finds, stray dogs and fake palm trees. The re-enactment is set to the sound of a raging thunderstorm.

Basim Magdy lives and works in Basel and Cairo. He uses different media including drawing, painting, animation, installation, sculpture, film, video, sound and printed matter. Most recently his work has been shown, among other venues, at the Kunsthalle Vienna and at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. In his work, he explores the space between fiction and reality in the representation of power in the media and global culture.

*MY FATHER LOOKS FOR AN HONEST CITY is part of the program curated by Maha Maamoun and Sara Rifky but not available via arsenal distribution.

Iman Issa,
Egypt 2005,  OV, 5 min
Issa invents a character that describes a city, which is never named. The video, composed of the narrator’s text and public domain landscape images, emerges from the artist’s attempt to describe a personal relationship and a set of observations of a familiar location, searching for an appropriate language – both textual and visual – to accomplish this task. The utopian narrative and almost indistinguishable images gain resonance and specificity through the artist’s articulation of these elements in her work.

Iman Issa is an artist living and working in Cairo and New York. Her videos have been presented internationallly in galleries, museums and festivals. In her practice Issa deals with questions of language, place, methodically exploring the relationship between history, the city, personal cognition and experience. Lyrical and encrypted, her works pose systematic questions, a little off-center, insinuating narrative and always resisting placement or definition.