Two Egyptian photo-collectives to participate in Mali's 11th African Biennale of Photography

Ahram Online , Wednesday 2 Aug 2017

The biennale will be held in Bamako, Mali between 2 December 2017 and 31 January 2018

bats / athena
Cairo Bats (left), The Black Athena Collective (right)

Two Egyptian photo-collectives -- The Black Athena Collective and Cairo Bats -- are set to take part in the 11th edition of the African Biennale of Photography (Bamako Encounters), which will be held in Bamako, Mali, between 2 December 2017 and 31 January 2018.

The Bamako Encounters was founded in 1994 with the aim of showing the best of contemporary African photography through exhibitions, workshops, public projections and more. The biennial is organized jointly by Mali’s Ministry of Culture and the French Institute.

The Black Athena Collective was founded in 2015 by Egyptian artist Heba Y. Amin and Eritrean-Canadian artist Dawit L. Petros. The collective’s work focuses on art and research surrounding political discourse in the African continent, addressing subjects such as migration, territorial demarcation, and assumptions about the continent that are embedded in Western historiography.

Heba Y. Amin is a multimedia artist, whose work explores the topics of politics, technology, architecture and their intersection, as well as the complexity of critical spatial practice.

Amin is the author of 10 publications, the first of which was Fragmented City: Visualizing the City/Psyche Relationship of Cairo, published in 2009. Her most recent work is Towards a Spatial Imaginary: Walking Cabbages and Watermelons, published in 2016.

The artist is the recipient of many grants and recidencies, and has directed several workshops, including in Cairo “Urban Poises”, held last year as part of the AUC_Lab series, as well as the “When My Future is Silent” workshop, held at Darb 1718.

Her work has been exhibited internationally, notably at the Kalmar Art Museum in Sweden, La Villette in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, and the 9th Berlinale Forum Expanded Exhibition, among many others.

Amin’s artworks will also be showcased at this year’s Istanbul Biennial.

Co-founder of Black Athena, Dawit L. Petros is a visual artist who works with installations and photography. He investigates and challenges artistic, geographical and cultural boundaries through his extensive travels and research.

His artworks focus on the relationship between African histories and European modernism, enabling a “metaphorically rich articulation of the fluidity of contemporary transnational experiences,” according to the artist’s website.

Petros holds an MFA in Visual Art from Tufts University/School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; a BFA in Photography from the Concordia University, Montreal; and a BA in History from the University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon.

His works were most recently exhibited at: the Kansas City Art Institute’s H&R Block Artspace; the Huis Marseille Museum of Photography in Amsterdam; the Kennedy Museum of Art at Ohio University; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City; and the National Museum of African Art in Washington DC.

The Cairo Bats (Khafafeesh El-Qahira), the other Egyptian participants at Bamako Enocunters, is a collective of Cairo-based female artists.

The group formed in 2014 and currently includes artists Mai Al Shazly, Yvonne Buchheim, Magdalena Kallenberger, Hagar Masoud, Nadia Mounier and Omneia Naguib.

The group’s first exhibition was held in April 2016 at the Contemporary Image Collective, under the title Act 1: The Roof, and gathered a series of pictures taken over a period of two years on various rooftops across the city. According to the artists’ website, their aim is to “stage photographs through playful interactions in semi-public spaces”.

The Cairo Bats are currently working on a new body of work titled Act 2: The Play.

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