8 Egyptian artists at the Mediterranean 17 Young Artists Biennale

Soha Elsirgany, Friday 23 Oct 2015

Egyptian artists are participating with installations, music and poetry in the Mediterranea 17 Young Artists Biennale (BJCEM) in Italy

egyptians at mediterranea 17 young artists biennale
(Photos: Courtesy of Ahmed Mohsen)

A total of eight artists from Egypt, including five visual artists, two poets, and a music band, join the Mediterranea 17 Young Artists Biennale, an multidisciplinary exhibition taking place in Milan, Italy between 22 and 25 October bringing together more than 100 artists from Europe and the Mediterranean countries.

The artists were selected by the Atelier of Alexandria, a collective of artists and writers established in 1935, headed by Mohamed Rafik Khalil with Moataz El-Safty as art director of international cooperation.

This year Egyptian visual artists Ahmed Mohsen and Israa El-Naggar display their collaborative video art project Curfew.

With its title evoking a socio-political reference, Curfew examines the behaviour of a system that continuously runs on a cycle of chaos, looking at how consistency and chaos, two opposing states, need to exist in the same time to run that system.

Also touching on politics, Kamal El-Feki presents an installation titled Democracy. His miniature clay sculpture figures roam with slumped backs around a pile of newspapers. El-Feki’s work expresses the feelings of a group of people who, had they not taken individual choices, could have made a positive difference in their society.

Yasmine El-Meleegy joins with a more personal project titled Fever.

In an installation, the artist reflects on her nightmarish experience with a feverish Malaria infection she caught visiting Ghana.

Displayed on a white shelf, the artist created small whimsical glass sculptures, such as melting syringes and twisted test tubes, some of which are filled with honey-coloured samples. The setting evokes equipment in a medical lab, while a black ceramic cat sits curled on a battered pillow in front of the shelf.

The fifth artist, Amir Youssef, exhibits his installation Useless Machine.

Youssef created a wooden sculpture resembling an aircraft but incapable of functional flight. A wooden box contains an engine, and two "useless" wings are attached to it, while carved wooden frames of machine parts are displayed on the wall.

As for the music section of the exhibition, the Alexandrian band MaQuam will be performing at the biennale.

MaQuam band are known for mixing oriental sounds by using the qanoun, an Arabic string instrument, with progressive rock sounds on the guitar, and merging Arabic with English lyrics. The band was formed in 2013.

Two Egyptian poets, Mohamed El-Mesalami and Nehal Ghanem will each present their poetry.

El-Mesalami will read two pieces: The Story is That She, a poem dedicated to Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky, and Today, a recent poem in which he reflects on the present without ignoring its ugliness.

Ghanem will be presenting three poems: Dark Eyes, Cleaning the Mess, and Behind the Foggy Glass, all of which centre around the theme of separation between lovers or friends.

Before the biennale’s opening on the 22 October, these eight artists will join a pre-event itinerary of tours and workshops in Genova from 19 to 21 October, hosting the 100 participating artists from Europe and the Mediterranean.

On the opening day, the Res Artis Awards will be presented to two artists, offering one artist a month long residency in the city of Ii, Finland, and another a two-month residency in Sierre, Switzerland.

The Atelier of Alexandria has been a member of the board of BJCEM, a network of 71 members of cultural bodies from 20 countries, since 2005. Khalil acts as president of the Egyptian delegation to the biennale, and El-Safty as curator.

BJCEM has been ongoing since 2001, aiming at encouraging young creators under the age 35 in the fields of literature, music and the visual arts.

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