Thank you Aleya Hamza,  Anne-Karin Furunes, Prerna Bishnoi, Martinus Suijkerbuijk, Mark lotfy and all the team of Figleaf Studios in Alexandria,

Special thanks to Hala El Koussy for posting a question on Facebook few years ago which introduced me to the film A Man in My Life by Youssef Chahine and to Yousry Nasrallah for highlighting the link between this film and Magnificent Obsession by Douglas Sirk and a major THANK YOU to Rammy Elsaadany for tirelessly working on designing the marble walls!

A New Commission for an Old State

at Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art,  

Oldenburg, Germany

19 August - 23 October 2016


A New Commission for an Old State is a new site-specific exhibition by Mahmoud Khaled that bears formal and conceptual similarities with memorials. This form of commemoration  provides the framework for the complex narratives that unfold in the artist’s new body of work. Khaled’s research-based artistic strategy focuses on three iconic artifacts within the Egyptian context. The first is a gated summer resort in Alexandria called Maamoura built by the state shortly after Gamal Abdel Nasser came to power to accommodate the new elite of the “rebranded” (post-1952) Egypt, a significant yet painfully understudied monument of modern architecture in Egypt.

The second is a landmark text titled Maamoura's Victims written by Judge Hassan Jalal who was a harsh critic of the Egyptian monarchy. His text serves as a reference to the political layers of the exhibition, bridging different epochs in the history of modern Egypt. Jalal published a  report on the atrocities, horrendous conditions and systematic tortures in a prisoner camp on the King’s properties, which later became the land on which Maamoura was built. Through this testimony the supporters of the new military regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser ironically wanted to prove that the monarchy erected its legitimacy on oppression and blood. The haunting similarities between the methods of the monarchy and republic puts the document in a completely different light, making it even more relevant when read in the present.

The third artifact is a 1961 film by Youssef Chahine titled A Man in My Life, a remake of Douglas Sirk’s Magnificent Obsession from 1954. A Man in My Life, a relatively unknown work within Chahine’s filmography, started production in Maamoura a few months after it officially opened in 1959. The story revolves around the life of a fictitious architect who is known for his remarkable modernist style and who has built one of Maamoura’s most memorable buildings, which is used as a backdrop in the opening scene of the film. This character is portrayed as a fighter for social justice who is given a prominent position to achieve this; nevertheless, due to past misdeeds, he considers himself a criminal. Chahine’s film talks about love, violence, modernity, justice, heroism, and the political context and architectural style of Egypt at that time.  

Khaled’s new body of work metaphorically touches upon these topics by utilizing building materials such as glass and marble that have been widely used in state-sanctioned architectural projects in Egypt in the past thirty years. These materials are mixed with photos, texts, screenshots, murals, and found-footage videos - all presented together in an imagined memorial-like installation. A New Commission for an Old State is fueled by the artist’s urgent and insistent desire to understand the relationship between his generation and the powers that have been ruling the country for the past sixty-four years.

Video collage of two films which both were an important source material for the formulation of this commission - A Man in My Life, Youssef Chahine, 1962, Egypt  - Magnificent Obsession, Douglas Sirk, 1954, USA


List of works:

Still Life, Mural #1 (Notes on Justice), 2016

Text on a staged photographed printed on wall paper, 390 x 260 cm

 

Still Life, Mural #2 (Notes on Justice), 2016 

Text on a staged photographed printed on wall paper, 348 x 260 cm

 

Still Life, Mural #3 (Notes on Justice), 2016

Text on a staged photographed printed on wall paper, 348 x 260 cm

 

Abstracted Commemoration of Unknown Things, 2016

Marble, mosaic tiles, plants

*At the reception you can ask for an iPad that plays a video collage of two films which both were an important source material for the formulation of this commission

- A Man in My Life, Youssef Chahine, 1962, Egypt

- Magnificent Obsession, Douglas Sirk, 1954, USA

 

A Rare Glimpse into the Recent Moments When People Lived in a World Turned Upside Down, 2016

8 unique computer generated images of carrara marble printed on wallpaper, 16 double glass panels 100 x 160 cm each, stainless steal clips, 210 photographs (15cm x 10cm) taken by the artist in the Mammoura Summer resort in Alexandria. EG, between 2014 and 2016. English translation of an arabic text titles “Mammoura’s Victims” written by the judge Hassan Jalal, Published in Al Hilal Magazine, February 1955, Egypt

 Click on the text below to continue reading the piece “Mammoura’s Victims” written by the judge Hassan Jalal, Published in Al Hilal Magazine, February 1955, Egypt