Gallery of the Department of the Arts at the American University in Cairo (AUC)

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March 22-April 23, 2015
Opening Reception and Performance: March 22, 6pm

You should just give your past a place and you'll be free. Nothing more to it I guess.
                                                     His Highness’ History, Mohamed Abdelkarim 2014

Ahmed’s Revenge and Other Untold Stories is Mohamed Abdelkarim’s first major solo exhibition, bringing together a wide range of works from 2010 to 2015. It features videos, installations, books, digital images, sculptures, found materials and objects, as well as a newly commissioned performance on the opening night: Ahmed’s Revenge, part of the series Possibilities of Telling a Story, featuring the artist himself along with two actors.

In his works Abdelkarim probes the narrative patterns of myth, history and ideology, by employing a variety of aesthetic forms: from cinematic and documentary strategies to 3d graphics; from oral story telling to religious rhetoric. Personal anecdotes are interwoven with historical events, where real and imagined protagonists – such as Christopher Columbus and Islamic theorist Sayyid Qutb - reincarnate from one story to another, crystallizing collective desires into fictitious personae. What emerges is a speculative historiography that relies as much on conspiracy theories, or cinematic convention, as on fact; where historical truth unfolds as an encounter between an event and its manifold mediation.

Mohamed Abdelkarim (born 1983 in El-Minya, Egypt) lives in Cairo and Sierre, Switzerland. He completed his BA in Art Education in Cairo in 2005 and took part in the Ashkal Alwan Home Workspace Program 2011. Among other places, his works have been included in PhotoCairo 5, Contemporary Image Collective, Cairo (2012); Cairo-Documenta, Hotel Viennoise, Cairo (2012); Tokyo Wonder Site, Japan (2012); Thessaloniki Biennale, Greece (2011); Kunsthalle St. Gallen, Switzerland (2011); and Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi, Pakistan.

The performance piece Ahmed's Revenge will feature contributions by Muhammed Hatem, Ahmed Sobhy and Hisham Hamad. Part of AUC_LAB and produced by the Visual Cultures Program of the Arts Department at the American University in Cairo.

November 30th, 2014 - January 15th, 2015, open daily 9am-4pm, except Fridays and public holidays

Assembled in Streams of Synonyms, Rana ElNemr’s solo exhibition at Sharjah Art Gallery, explores an intangible quality that she encounters in urban, architectural, literary, personal or imaginal spaces. It is a quality that renders these spaces susceptible to transformation - functional, mis-planned or abandoned as they may be.

This subjective quality opens these spaces up to malleable structures of meaning, which the artist refers to as inner voids. Such physical and perceptual voids act as powerful fields that draw in personal sensations, images and imaginaries, and generate new ones. Whether found in the public or the private sphere, each is an intimately personal space in the sense that its discovery or creation is the result of the unique encounter of subjectivity with a space.

In the different images, objects and spaces that ElNemr summons to this exhibition, she observes the shape and density of these voids, their emotional triggers, and their capacity to host the imagination. A lamppost here becomes the breeding ground of a living organism, a ghost city reveals signs of actual life, while highways and gardens fall short of, or exceed, their use-value and engage in a transformative speculation.

Over a number of years and projects, ElNemr has examined the relationships that people have with their surroundings - be they observational, investigative, interventional, or territorial. In this exhibition she explores these fluid spaces through the different sensitivities to time and space expressed in the mediums of photography, video, 16mm film, sculpture, and text.

Assembled in Streams of Synonyms is curated by Maha Maamoun, and is a part of AUC_LAB, a new series of monographic exhibitions and projects by artists from the region.

Rana ElNemr is an artist who works primarily with photography, but also engages text, film, sound, and sculpture. She has performed extensive research and developed various workshops, which aim to analyze, question, and develop our relationship with the images we produce or consume. ElNemr has received several awards for her work and research on the image, and has held exhibitions at the Townhouse Gallery Cairo, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Zentrum fuer Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe (ZKM). She is a co-founder of the Contemporary Image Collective (CiC), a space for arts and culture founded in Cairo in 2004.

Design Works and Illustrations by Helmi el-Touni

October 19th-November 13th, 2014, Opening Sunday, Oct. 19th, 6pm

The Graphic Design major, part of the Visual Cultures program housed at the Department of the Arts at the American University in Cairo, will be hosting the large-scale exhibition “El-Touni: A Design Retrospective” by the renowned Egyptian artist and designer Helmi el-Touni. Opening on October 19th, 2014 at the Sharjah Art Gallery at AUC’s new campus, the show will feature original illustrations, book and corporate identity design, posters, sketches, and cartoons by one of the veterans of Arab graphic design.
The exhibition is the first in a series of projects, which trace the development of design in the Arab world and aim to contribute to the thriving debate on the theory and practice of graphic design in the region.

Since the 1950s el-Touni has created an immense and multifaceted body of work. Besides being a prolific painter he has illustrated thousands of book covers, hundreds of magazine illustrations and children’s books, political posters and some of the most iconic logos in Arab graphic design history. His practice earned him many local and international awards and has had a lasting influence on following generations.

In el-Touni’s design works we encounter a rich and evocative image world that is both deeply rooted in local visual traditions and addresses the pressing social issues of his time. With his expressive and metaphorical iconography and distinctive color palette, el-Touni provides political commentary, examines notions of identity, and narrates captivating and playful visual stories.

El-Touni has collaborated with numerous publishing houses and periodicals in Egypt before moving to Beirut in the 1960s, where he lived for fourteen years. There, he created some of his most remarkable political posters, logos, and children’s books. He moved back to Cairo in the mid-1980s and was commissioned by Dar al-Shorouk to develop work, ranging from children’s books, to book covers, to magazine op-eds. He also spent these years collaborating with newspapers, magazines, and publishers from all over the Arab world.

Documenting more than thirty years of award-winning work, the collection on display will have original designs and sketches from the artist himself and from the collection of Dar al-Shorouk. A film on el-Touni, part of the documentary Dark Room Radiant Life, by Arab Loutfi, will be shown on the second floor of the gallery.

Events planned will include the book launch Hilmi el-Tuni, Evoking Popular Arab Culture, coupled with a public talk by Helmi el-Touni. Written by Yasmine Taan and published by Khatt foundation in Amsterdam, Hilmi el-Tuni is the first well-developed documentation of the artist’s works and his life as an artist and a designer. Both events are scheduled to take place on the 9th of November at AUC’s new campus.

Prior to the main show’s opening, books designed by Helmi el-Touni and published by Dar al-Shorouk will be exhibited in the foyer of AUC’s main library from the 12th till the 18th of October 2014.

Opening Hours of “El-Touni: A Design Retrospective”: Daily from 9am-4pm, except Fridays

HYDROGEN | Senior Project Exhibition 2014 of the Visual Cultures Program, Department of the Arts

Curated by Dr. Shady Elnoshokaty

May 7-15, 2014, Gallery Hours: 9am–4pm daily except Fridays, Sharjah Art Gallery

Opening: Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 1pm - 9pm

with works by: Miral Abdel Moneim | Habiba Allam | Ines Alexandra El Sayed Al Laban | Zeina Asfour | Mondow Ayoub | Marwa Benhalim | Samar El Abbasy | Leila Eleshe | Tuqa El-Harouny | Salma El-Shaffei | Doaa Gamil | Ingy Helmy | Samar Khaled | Ayette Meligy | Salma Osama | Nour Rashad | Alyaa Sadek

Hydrogen is the 2014 senior student exhibition of the Visual Cultures Program at AUC. The exhibition presents seventeen projects created through a year-long process that began last semester with a research phase in ARTV 469 and continued this semester with a production phase in ARTV 470, during which students finalized their research outcomes into art works. Both research and production phases are an integral part of the educational process.

Hydrogen is what can be called a basic element. It is matter that is non-matter and absolute matter at the same time. It is non-matter in that its one-cell composition has no substance in and of itself. It is absolute matter because it is the root and cause of contradictory processes that result in both creation and destruction. Hydrogen’s transformative capacities make it an element that is the substance of the most powerful destructive weapon the humankind has ever created: the hydrogen bomb. But it is also a source of life—water, electricity and engine power—that materially sustain the world. It is this radical contradiction that makes hydrogen a dialectic matter, that of creation and destruction. It is in this sense that hydrogen in its transformative potential intersects with the basic processes of art. Both utilize matter and medium and subject it to a drastic transformation to an extent that the basic matter is negated through the labor of the artist. Hydrogen and art meet at yet another level: they reveal the unstable nature of reality in its constant dynamic alterability.

The Visual Cultures Program at AUC offers an integrated curriculum within a liberal arts context. It combines an interdisciplinary approach to the arts in a larger cultural sphere with tools and methods borrowed from other disciplines such as the sciences, sociology, anthropology and history. The program is oriented towards visual research and production grounded in an exploration of creativity and a critical approach towards art and culture. The current senior year exhibition showcases one of the first and early outcomes of the new curriculum. Students have adopted a process-oriented conceptual approach and developed a variety of visual and performative languages in their multi-media work.

Shady Elnoshokaty


Footnotes to HASSAN KHAN is a project commissioned by Sharjah Art Gallery as part of AUC_LAB, on the occasion of the exhibition HASSAN KHAN, curated by Beth Stryker/CLUSTER in the framework of D-CAF.

Footnotes to Hassan Khan is conceived as a discursive complement to the first major survey exhibition of Hassan Khan (1975) in Egypt, which will be presented in downtown Cairo’s Kodak Passage as part of D-CAF.

With the exhibition providing a survey of Khan’s diverse body of work from the mid 90s to the present day, Footnotes to Hassan Khan has been commissioned by AUC_LAB to contextualize his work in a discursive and performative form. The program includes an artist talk and a tour by Khan, as well as a talk by writer Nida Ghouse. Khan and Ghouse will conduct a seminar for AUC students based on his piece 17 and in AUC, which reflects on his student years at The American University in Cairo. The live concert Taraban will conclude the program and present a new musical work based on two early 20th-century Egyptian songs by Youssef El Manialawy.

Footnotes to HASSAN KHAN exhibition (related programs)


17 and in AUC seminar led by Hassan Khan and Nida Ghouse

April 4, 10 am:
Artist’s walkthrough of exhibition
with Hassan Khan – Kodak passage (in Arabic)

April 9, 6-8 pm:
Artist Talk with Hassan Khan
(in Arabic with English translation) – Cairo Atelier _________________________________________________________

April 22, 6-8 pm :
The Artist as a Portrait of a Young Man Talk by Nida Ghouse (in English with Arabic Translation) – Oriental Hall, AUC Tahrir

April 26, 8pm:
Hassan Khan concert – TarabanFalaki Theater ________________________________________________________
These programs have been co-organized by CLUSTER and the AUC Sharjah Art Gallery as part of AUC_LAB, in collaboration with D-CAF.

Hassan Khan
(1975) is an artist, musician, and writer. Recent exhibitions include: The Unrest of Forms, Secession, Vienna, 2013; Hassan Khan, SALT, Istanbul, 2012; Documenta 13, Kassel, 2012; Intense Proximity, Paris Triennial, 2012; and The Ungovernables, New Museum Triennial, New Museum, New York, 2012. His first solo show was i am a hero / you are a hero in 1999 at the Gezira Art Center, Cairo. Most recently for the Nuit Blanche Festival Khan premiered Composition for a Public Park a large scale multichannel music and lights installation at the Parc du Belleville in Paris. Khan also regularly performs his own music live; recent appearances include: Klangzeit Festival, Munster; Maerz Musik Festival, Berlin 2013; Ghetto, Istanbul, 2013; Auditorium du Louvre, Paris 2012; Teatro Fondamenta Nuove, Venice, 2012; and as the opening act for the 1st D-CAF Festival, Cairo, 2012. His publications include The Agreement (2011) and Nine Lessons Learned from Sherif El Azma (2009). Khan lives and works in Cairo, Egypt.


Curated by Beirut

March 31-April 26, 2014, AUC Sharjah Art Gallery

March 31, 6pm: Opening Reception

April 23, 5pm: PUBLIC PROGRAM, A program of talks, performances and responses with Antonia Alampi, Brian Conley, Jens Maier-Rothe, Matthew Rana, Sarah Rifky, Nile Sunset Annex and Nada El Shazly. Details here.

Lost Referents of Some Attraction marks Malak Helmy’s first major solo exhibition, reformulating various works from the past five years of her practice into a show that responds to its hosting site, the Sharjah Art Gallery at the American University in Cairo’s New Cairo campus. The exhibition brings together three films, one audio, and two text based works, in addition to a series of objects and spatial interventions.

The artist sets up environments within environments, presenting altered objects stripped of function as indexical referents within the space. She presents texts that become placeholders for images “Placeholders” (2014) and “Statements from the Compound”, a copy of a fountain alluding to the prototypical real “marble marble fountain gurgle fountain marble marble” and three-dimensional grass “Introduced Natives.”

Frame-by-frame, “Statements from the Compound” (2014) reveals a time-based story cast on photo paper. Gradually exposed, the light-sensitive medium gives in to environment, the work becomes unstable and the story once present fades.

“Records from the Excited State” (2010-present), a chaptered work, is an ongoing study of “the rhythms of the site of leisure” along Egypt’s coastline. Since the 1970’s the government has pushed the development of local tourism encouraging the building of compounds along the North Coast. She uses many methods to mine the site: visits, walks, people, studies, traveling with birds…. and circus dwellers. The chapter “Notes from the Carbon Coast” (2010) features carbon and its allotropes graphite and diamond as a blueprint for temporary cities stuck between two states, construction and destruction.

A messenger bird visits a nuclear plant, while traveling along the Western Desert and the Mediterranean Sea: “Music for Drifting” (2013) is also a record of that bird visiting an old port on the edge of Alexandria, a hill from the Battle of Alamein, a glass desert formed by a meteorite shower 200,000 years ago. The bird collects rhythms as measure from places that have historically changed.

“Keyword Searches for Dust” (2009) is a film composed of an array of web sourced images, immersive in its spontaneity, the narrative of dust points to something larger, the prospect of ‘coming together’ alluding to the becoming of an event.

The dénouement of this show is “Chapter 3: Lost Referents of Some Attraction” (2012) revolving around five characters wandering on the edge of a narrative, anticipating employment into meaning along three scenes in landscape: a salt flat, a beach, and an empty plot consigned to a nuclear power plant in the future.

On April 23, a performative public program will take place at the Sharjah Gallery with short responses by Antonia Alampi, Brian Conley, Jens Maier-Rothe, Nile Sunset Annex, Sarah Rifky, and others.

Malak Helmy (Alexandria, 1982) is an artist based in Cairo working most often with video and writing. Her work explores moments and locations in time through an archaeology of ideas, desires, the city and scientific possibilities around them. She also works with collective initiatives exploring areas between urbanism, architectural research and artistic production. Helmy's work has been exhibited in the 63rd and 64th Berlinale Film Festival Expanded Forum in 2014 and 2013, the 9th Mercosul Biennial (2013), Frankendael Foundation (2013), Beirut in Cairo (2013), Camera Austria (2013), Moving Image Art Fair, NYC (2013), 9th Gwangju Biennial (2012), Documenta 13’s Cairo Seminar (2012), amongst others.

Windows and Mirrors, Selected Photography Projects by AUC Students from the Departments of Arts and Journalism & Mass Communication

Curated by Heba Farid, Ronnie Close and Kaya Behkalam

Exhibition 3rd March - 13th March 2014, Sharjah Art Gallery, AUC New Cairo Campus

The medium of photography can often be a reflexive one with the maker drawn to or imagining photographic subjects. Our compulsion to make images can be thought of as an opportunity for an encounter or meeting (window) and/or a reflection of the self (mirror). The student projects in this show were developed over a short period and relate to this questioning process. The camera can be a passport to experience of a place or the realization of self-image. Through this prism the viewer is invited to enter into this visual interplay between maker and subject.

With works by: Aya Youssef + Diana Kostandi + Deena El Safty + Diana Saleh + Dina El Abou + Farah Fayez + Gloria Botros + Hana Kheiashy + Ines Al Laban + Lama Aboushair + Jaida Naguib + Manal Sayed + Maria Hanna + Marina Ibrahim + Nadia Abou El Dahab + Nawara Shoukry + Noha Oweida + Pacent Hassanein + Raghda Sakkijha + Rama Taher + Sarah Eweda + Sara Hassan + Shams Adly + Yasmin Hashem + Yasmine Khalil + Yasmin Ouf + Youstina Ibrahim

Exhibition Opening: 3rd March, 1-2pm Sharjah Gallery
Panel Discussion with Heba Farid, Ronnie Close and Brian Conley: 10th March, 1-2pm Sharjah Gallery

6 October–20 November 2012

The American University in Cairo celebrated the life and work of Egyptian artist Ahmed Basiony (1978–2011) with a large-scale memorial exhibition and events in three art institutions in Cairo. The exhibition presented Ahmed Basiony’s innovative work in interactive digital art, sound art and performance in addition to his influential work as an educator. The Sharjah Art Gallery presented an educational exhibition centered on his project "Thirty Days of Running in Place" (2010). A series of talks and workshops was held in conjunction with the exhibition.

Curated by: Shady El Noshokaty