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Monday, 18 January 2021

London sees a taste of Cairo life at the Shubbak Arab cultural festival

Cairo life is explained through a tight photomontage of ‘myths and legends’ in a huge mural by artist Hala Elkoussy at the Shubbak festival on Arab culture until 24 July in London

Sara Elkamel, Saturday 9 Jul 2011
The Mural_ ACAP 2010_, photo courtesy Abraaj Capital
Hala Elkoussy: Myths and Legends Room, the Mural, ACAP 2010. Photo: courtesy Abraaj Capital
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Hala Elkoussy, an Abraaj Capital Prize Winner 2010 (ACAP), participates with a huge mural about Cairo in the Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture festival; organised by the mayor of London in celebration of Arab art.

Elkoussy, born in Cairo in 1974, exhibits a mural at the festival until 24 July that gives the London audience the chance to experience traditional narratives from Egypt. Contemporary myths and legends are laid out on canvas, capturing Cairo's pleasures and plights.

The reality and complexity of life in Cairo has been an undercurrent theme in Elkoussy's work. Her mural in London is grand in size as well as in impact.

Dubbed the Myths & Legends Room, the mural is a three-by-nine metre account of life in Cairo. It is composed of a deliberately packed photomontage, whose photos collide to present an overwhelming image of life in the city.

In general, contemporary Egyptian art has been largely setting the scene on canvas, applying colour to current situations. Artists have been commenting on the cultural landscape and the status quo through art. It is no surprise, therefore, that Elkousy's mural shows scenes right from the heart of Egypt and the dynamism of urban life.

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The ACAP is an annual award, encouraging artists from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia by giving them the opportunity to work with successful foreign curator to actualise their artistic careers. 

“At this time of heightened attention in our part of the world, it is essential to give artists from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region the opportunity to display their work and provide an arena to debate the impact that culture can have on all areas of society,” Frederic Sicre, partner at Abraaj Capital, reveals.

Shubbak encompasses numerous arts, music, film, dance, theatre and other events in key cultural venues across London. The festival also features many contemporary Arab artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, choreographers and architects.

The Mayor of London Borris Johnson describes Shubbak as "a unique chance for Londoners to glimpse the breadth and excellence of contemporary Arab culture and its influence on London's cultural scene today."

The festival is deliberately scheduled in the most vibrant and dynamic time for the Arab world. “At a time of remarkable political and social change, Shubbak marks an exciting moment between artists in the capital and across the Arab world."

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