Egyptian artist Maha Maamoun to be showcased in Beirut's Sursock museum

Ahram Online , Tuesday 21 Feb 2017

The works to be exhibited deal with state power and its manifestation in people’s lives

Dear Animal
Dear Animal, Maha Maamoun (photo: film still)

Egyptian artist Maha Maamoun will exhibit The Law of Existence at the Sursock Museum in Beirut between 24 February and 12 June.

At the opening reception on 23 February, Noha Razian, the museum’s head of programmes and exhibitions, will hold a talk with the artist.

In The Law of Existence, Maamoun works primarily with video and photography to create artworks surrounding vernacular culture, a term used to designate the cultural forms created by ordinary and often indigenous people, as opposed to the 'high culture' of the elite.

The exhibited works, which were all created within the past tumultuous five years in Egypt, deal with the many aspects of state power, from its clear presence in the edifices of government headquarters, to its manifestation in the people’s intimate lives. At the core of these creations is a reflection on human nature in times of uncertainty.

Two notable works in the exhibition are the films Dear Animal and Night Visitor: The Night of Counting the Years.

Dear Animal is based on a short story written by Haytham El-Wardany and titled Lord of the Order of the Order of Existence, about a drug dealer who turns into a strange animal, and a selection of letters written by director-producer Azza Shaaban, who was involved in the Egyptian revolution, and now resides in India.

From there, she continues to send notes about her travels and healing process after the revolution. The film was shot between Cairo and several locations in India, and deals with our relationship to power, violence, and the unfamiliar.

Night Visitor: The Night of Counting the Years, was compiled from mobile phone footage and posted on YouTube.

The film documents the break-in at the State Security buildings in Cairo and Damanhur in 2011. The film depicts the interiors of these edifices, the secret prisons and government officials’ offices which are connected through direct phone access to the president.

Egyptian artist Maha Maamoun was born in 1972. She lives and works in Cairo, Egypt. Her work deals with the form, function and currency of cultural visual and literary images as means of understanding the cultural environment in which we evolve.

Aside from her artwork, she works collaboratively on independent publishing and curatorial projects. In 2013, she co-founded the independent publishing platform Kafya-ta, and is among the founding board members of the Contemporary Image Collective, an independent non-profit space founded in Cairo, in 2004 for art and culture.

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