Peripheral (and other stories). The show is comprised of a video and a number of large landscape photographs. The starting point of her work is the constant change in the relationship between people and their social environment. In this she focuses specifically on the city where she was born, Cairo, a metropolis that exemplifies all of the large urban conglomerates in North Africa and Eurasia.
Peripheral (and other stories)
The starting point for the photographic and video work of Hala Elkoussy (b. 1974, Cairo) is the constant change in the relationship between people and their social environment. In this she focuses specifically on the city where she was born, Cairo, a metropolis that exemplifies all of the large urban conglomerates in North Africa and Eurasia when it comes to modernisation and Westernisation. Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam is showing her project Peripheral, which was previously seen at the Istanbul Biennale in September, 2005.
Peripheral is comprised of a video and a number of large landscape photographs. The video, Peripheral Stories, is an effervescent visual essay that takes the viewer along through the suburbs of Cairo, simultaneously illuminating it by testimonies from various residents of the city, texts from media reports, statistics and advertising messages of diverse sorts. During the 28 minutes of Peripheral Stories a picture slowly builds up of the contentious relation of the contemporary resident to the changing social values: alienation, acceptance, expectations and doubts about the future in a modern consumer society and the comfortable housing that accompanies it, in one of the countless new neighbourhoods that are springing up around the Egyptian capital.
Mai Abu ElDahab, co-curator of Manifesta 6, characterized Peripheral Stories as “exploring the complex and metamorphic relationship between the centre and the margin defined geographically, economically, socially and/or morally... The viewer undertakes a journey on a Cairene microbus, the physical embodiment of perpetual movement between inside and out, between the individual and the whole: an illustration of the simultaneous proximity and distance in which the two coexist."
Compared to the dynamism of the video, the photographs Peripheral Landscapes are literally and figuratively an oasis of tranquillity. They portray examples of the new construction on the periphery of Cairo. The articulated skies above the sites and the overall serenity of the photographs give them a strong romantic flavour akin to the Alpine scenes one might encounter - applied as wallpaper - in some Cairene interiors. They offer room for reflection and contemplation on a metropolis that is in a perpetual state of flux under the relentless pressure of migration from the countryside and the unabated rise in population.
In addition to Peripheral, Elkoussy will also show the recently finished photographic installation Maqaam Al-Sayyid Al-Moski (Shrine of St. Moski).
The exhibition is accompanied by SMBA newsletter nr. 91 with contributions by Clare Davies, Associate Curator at the Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art in Cairo, and Jelle Bouwhuis, curator of Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam.
Opening: 1 April, 5 - 7 p.m.
Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam
Rozenstraat 59 NL-1016 NN Amsterdam