In photos: Opening of the second edition of Something Else – Off Biennale
Ahram Online, , Saturday 3 Nov 2018
Something Else has three opening nights, the first of which took place last night at Darb 1718


The second edition of Something Else – Off Biennale, which took place at Darb 1718, opened 1 November to reveal part of what the highly anticipated, month-long event has in store.

A large crowd of artists and art enthusiasts were in attendance to viewthe visual art exhibitionand the two performances that were ongoing through the evening.

The exhibition was distributed at the venue’s three buildings, including works by both Egyptian and international artists. In each hall there were a mixture of nationalities and artistic mediums, such as paintings, sculptures, photographs, along with video and animation.

The exhibition also did not strictly differentiate between the six curated groups and the independently invited artists.

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Closeups

One of the six curators present at the opening was Henry Woo, who worked with two artists from the Philippines to present contrasting pieces in response to the Biennial’s theme, “What if it did not happen?”

On his role as a curator, Woo considers himself a messenger between the chief curator, Simon Nijami, and the artists he knows and selected for the show. It was not only a matter of finding interesting artists, but finding the right ones. He therefore chose to represent Jay Yao and Dex Fernandes.

“There are so many interesting artists in the Philippines, but when I got the concept from the biennale director, we wanted to find which artists would be the best fit. So, it was about really understanding the concept, discussing it with the artists and the directors, and then just letting the artists do their work,” Woo said.

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In four large photographs, artist Jay Yao asks: What if fashion was different? What if the fashion capital wasn’t Paris or New York? According to Woo, Yao aims to poke some fun at the fashion industry, which is much more complicated than simply creating beautiful clothing.

The pieces question beauty and the standards of fashion. By bringing in models and people from the fashion designer’s community, the artist challenges viewers to think of the stories behind the models.

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Meanwhile, the performance Weight Duvet by Swedish artist Alva Willemark was held outdoors in the pavement between two of the buildings.

Willemark walked back and forth in front of a bed like a guard on duty, dressed in clean white overalls that matched the bed sheets. She would then randomly approach someone from the audience (but always a woman), and ask them if they would like to lay on the bed, and she would lie over them like a duvet.

Though several people rejected this odd proposal, the artist had several willing volunteers who underwent the experience. They both would lay still with their eyes closed for several minutes, during which the surrounding, staring crowd seems to disappear and all that is left are the emotions evoked by the performance; unease gives way to peace, apprehension gives way to vulnerability.

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The remaining parts of the Something Else exhibition will open in Downtown venues tonight and tomorrow, whilethe programme of events and performancescontinues throughout the month.

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Ahram Online and Al-Ahram Weekly are media sponsors of Something Else.

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