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Salma Hayek featured in the work of Egyptian artist Youssef Nabil in Dubai

Egyptian artist Youssef Nabil’s 'I Saved my Belly Dancer', featuring Salma Hayek, to be displayed in February at Dubai's The Third Line gallery

Ahram Online , Tuesday 19 Jan 2016
I Saved my Belly Dancer
Youssef Nabil, I Saved My Belly Dancer #XIII (detail), 2015, Hand coloured gelatin silver print. Courtesy The Artist and The Third Line. (Photo: Courtesy of The Third Line)
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I Saved my Belly Dancer, Youssef Nabil’s latest video work, will be exhibited in a solo show at the new premises of Dubai’s Third Line gallery located in Alserkal Avenue. The exhibition is scheduled to begin in February 2016

Nabil is an Egyptian photographer based in New York, and in his second video project, I Saved my Belly Dancer, he nostalgically evokes Egyptian cinema of the 1950s to explore his own story and relationship with the country.

Through his nostalgic lens, using a similar style and the colouring of films produced in the 1950s, Nabil’s work explores his complex relationship with his home country, Egypt, with themes of memory, exile, loss, displacement, and rebirth.

The 12-minute film features actress Salma Hayek as ‘the last remaining belly dancer’, who dances next to a sleeping man, performed by Tahir Rahim.

The dancer comforts the man, who seems to believe his world is lost.

On one hand, according to the exhibition statement, the project is “a poetic depiction of Youssef’s fascination with belly dancers, and his anxiety over the disappearance of the art form that is unique to the Middle East.”

Yet it also acts as a symbolic “self-portrait of the artist’s history and relationship with his home country- and his separation from it – as well as what is left of the past within memory, even if it is no longer a part of reality.”

The exhibit will also display stills from the video, created with the traditional studio technique of manually colouring gelatine silver prints.

Born in 1972, Nabil is an established artist with three monographs written on his work; Sleep in My Arms by Autograph ABP and Michael Stevenson in 2007, I Won't Let You Die by Hatje Cantz in 2008, and Youssef Nabil, published by Flammarion in 2013.

Nabil was displayed in exhibitions at important venues including The British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the MACBA centre in Barcelona, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C and La Maison Rouge in Paris.

His work is also included in the collections of international institutions including LACMA Museum, Los Angeles, The Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris, the joint collection of The British Museum and The Victoria & Albert Museum, Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, and most recently the Guggenheim Museum in Abu Dhabi.

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