Image: Ahmed Abdel Fattah “Edible”.
Supermarket marks a turning point in Egypt. Opening on June 20th, 2012, does this young group of Egyptian artists once again unite to explore and develop their understandings of their own cultural movement.
Importing and exporting products as to what defines their ideas of social consumption, at a time where Egypt undergoes its own national change from an age of static resistance towards public good, to people taking matters into their own hands. So have the artists. Taking on the role of the curator, does the mitigation go into the hands of the people and in this collective founded under a new association entitled Studio Khana for Cultural Development bring to life a sequel to what once was an initiative done on January 10th, 2012 by the Young Artist’s Coalition in bringing life to Shift Delete 30. An exhibition that questioned the deniability of the past 30 years, and what would you do if you could erase it, revise it and relive it. A team of artists, youngest had born in 1987, surprise us with their own concepts on how they felt towards the “National” identity, the “Collective” presence, and the social importance.
In this group, do we observe 19 artists, each sprouting out of their own routes of developing experiences, experimental and confirmed capacities, do we observe a series of works designed to fulfill the experience of an actual supermarket, or hypermarket, whereby the masses have become very much attracted to visiting, consuming, and becoming part of the consumer’s product. The buyer becomes the bought, and the sale becomes that bargained deal, the approaching expiration, and that invalidated presence; unwanted yet always there.
Ahmed Abdelfattah places a man’s appealingly decapitated head and foot, as a delicacy meal. His ear and finger, even though when bitten, are simply made from pieces of candy, but are also a violation, a utilization of something that should be preserved, well taken care of and not eaten, however deprived, beheaded and devoured. Bassem Yousri further reflects from the Parliament of the Revolution, and enters into a whole new realm where he witnesses the army consuming its people. Tantawy is seated the way the pharaohs are seated on the throne of power, and is receiving boxes and boxes of common people as though they were their offerings, without identifying their carrier. Ibrahim Saad has become the martryr, the safe exit, the blessed reunion with God when choosing to die for a greater cause, but that cause is also lethal one. Mostafa Elbana offers the Egyptian army tank for sale, in parts. Drawing out a diagram, satirically does he create a constructed diagram of parts, offering war, whether civil or regional, as part of a buyer’s catch.
Amr Amer and Mohamed Abdallah team up to create the room of expiration. Signifying a present-day product, they put up for sale; a bearded man, the Republic of Egypt, a fire extinguisher, the international Water Closet sign for both men and women, and so on and then invite the visitor to mark a product expiration stamp, as supermarket employees must do when the product is no longer validated to be bought. Expiration of history? Expiration towards a future? Expiration of hope, or an expiration towards the revolution? Or is it an expiration of validation, stop.
Alexandria’s coast has been put up for sale; a woman’s ability to reveal and conceal herself underneath not only one scarf, but several is performed. A maze has been installed between two residential doors, however you enter or exit, the result will remain the same. Mannequins have become the international consumers of trademark products, and the salesman has become your everyday bus dealer who can sell everything from real-estate to nonsense.
It is in the Supermarket, does the effort brought about this new cultural initiative Studio Khana, bring about questions of what new produce will the people besought into buying. With the help of the Ministry of Culture’s Fine Arts Sector, and Gezira Arts Centre, are we presented with a very healthy and welcoming criticism, seen by the artists who are living this consumption in their daily lives, and are still healthily staggering towards the government institution who are recognizing this group’s ideas and welcoming their criticisms towards today’s problems.
– Aïda Eltorie, June 2012. Exhibition organized by the Young Artist’s Coalition and Studio Khana.