The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged townhouse
Assume The Position

An exhibition at the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo, starting on Sunday 13 December 2009.

December 13, 2009–January 17, 2010

Opening: Sunday, December 13, 7–9 pm

This group show takes as its starting point the loss of focus. Distraction as diversion. The offstage moment becomes central, the minor player the star, the prop the protagonist, the interior monologue the script. Attention gets shifted to the “wrong” thing, questioning what the main event actually is, and who, in fact, is the audience. In some works, the artist inserts her or himself to create a disruption; in others, events are reframed through different means. Participants turn passive and viewers become active, as politics and conflict receive a sidelong glance—a reality just outside the picture that influences everything that lies within it. Debord’s iconic spectators, transfixed in their 3-D glasses, have been replaced by actors and audiences who are continually sidetracked.

Sanja Iveković and Jill Magid make use of police officers as cast and crew: Iveković sets them in motion via a trio of actions on her balcony; Magid’s romantic city tour is filmed entirely by public surveillance cameras. Reversing positions, Walid Raad imagines the point of view of a camera operator and a possible reason for his wandering eye.

Peaceful landscapes become charged in Cyprien Gaillard’s film, where empty settings are interrupted by sudden clouds of smoke, as well as in Osama Dawod’s photographs, which capture protesters at the G8 summit in an off-moment. David Levine re-crops performance art documentation to show only the onlookers—some paying rapt attention, some talking among themselves—whereas the accident scenes shot by Enrique Metinides and Egyptian press photographers illustrate that nothing attracts our attention quite like a good disaster.

Outside the gallery, Amal Kenawy’s performances mix an invited audience with an accidental one—the passers-by on the street.

Curated by Nikki Columbus


Osama Dawod
Sanja Iveković
Cyprien Gaillard
Amal Kenawy
David Levine
Jill Magid
Enrique Metinides
Walid Raad
. . . and press photographs from the collection of Amgad Naguib