Commissioned by 15th Istanbul Biennial a good neighbour - Curated by Elmgreen & Dragset 

Proposal for a House Museum of an Unknown Crying Man, 2017


Opening Hours: 

Open daily from 10.00 to 18.00 - closed on Monday. 

Special thanks to the following artists for their valuable contribution to the process of conservation, research and the presentation of the museum collection: Kıymet Daştan, Martin Palmer, Amanda Trygg, Enis Malik Duran, Elif Kamışlı, Serra Gözören, Maher Sabry, Butt Boy and Jacques Brel. 


Arts Council Norway, Ari Meşulam and Office for Contemporary Art Norway.

With loans from Üstüngel İnanç and Fatih Özgüven


Production manager: Kıymet Daştan
Furniture production:  İkiTahta
Graphic design assistant: Ahmed Aiyad
Industrial design/furniture design assistant: Ece Nur Yanik

“Mahmoud Khaled's Proposal for a House Museum of an Unknown Crying Man(2017), which occupies all floors of the villa of ARK Kültür cultural space in the lively neighbourhood of Cihangir, also deserves special mention. Conceived as a fictional museum, the audience enters with an audio guide and discovers that the absent inhabitant of the house is an Egyptian man who moved from Cairo to Istanbul a decade ago. A narrative of queer persecution in Egypt and later in Istanbul is told through this unknown man's belongings. Contextual references are drip-fed throughout the tour: the arrest of 52 men on a gay disco boat on the Nile in 2001, photos of cruising areas, a disturbing excerpt of Egyptian director's Maher Sabry's film All My Life (2008) in which a gay man is being tricked into an arrest, and a leather jacket typical of what the mukhabarat (Egyptian secret service) might wear, to name a few. Jacques Brel's classic song 'Ne Me Quitte Pas', a tale of love lost, resonates throughout the house. Khaled's piece is gripping and the format of the museum works exceptionally well to keep the memory of this unknown crying man, and so many others with him, alive. It also operates as an ominous foreboding, if not warning, for the threatened position of LGBTQI communities in contemporary Turkey, who face increasing harassment and abuse due to growing conservatism in the country. A threat that the art world, too, is grappling with, if events in recent years have shown, including attacks on galleries—and one assassination at an exhibition opening.” A good neighbour? The 15th Istanbul Biennial, Nat Muller, 

“Taking the theme literally, conceptually and poetically, Mahmoud Khaled created the best work with a “home museum” entirely dedicated to a fictive immigrant from Egypt, where the artist is also from. “Proposal for a Museum of an Unknown Crying Man” takes inspiration from the weeping man covering his face pictured in a photograph, taken after he was was arrested in 2001 for being gay. Housed in the modernist ARK Kultur, the former home of a gay antiques dealer, Khaled fictionalised the life of such individual with furniture, art and artefacts spread across three floors. The fictional museum also includes an audio tour narrated from the perspective of a neighbour. Room by room we are guided through the belongings in the house, which tell intimate stories about the subject that related to society as a whole. There’s an exhilarating sense of voyeurism while inspecting supposedly personal items such as bedside books about love, sex and existentialism, or the amount of melatonin sleeping pills the subject took. What’s so powerful and effective about the work is that it creates a bond between listener and the subject, despite him being a complete “stranger”. The artist makes use of the ambivalence between the richly decorated house and the anguish embedded in the narrative to create tension and wonder while retaining the mystery. It’s an impressive feat that culminates with a visit to the the cellar which is pitch black only lit by a red light, reminiscent of a darkroom in a sex club. From the other parts of the house it’s possible to hear squeals from people in the basement who blindly bump into each other. And despite the house being charged with intimacy and enigma it still manages to create empathy towards the unknown subject.”  Why You Shouldn't Miss the 15th Istanbul Biennial by Will Furtado, Sleek magazine, 6 November, 2017

“In Turkey, homosexuality is legal, but there are also no anti-discrimination laws, and assaults, rapes, and even murders of members of the LGBTQ community are often ignored or only lightly investigated. This is the background against which Mahmoud Khaled developed his ambitious project Proposal for a House Museum of an Unknown Crying Man (2017). But the initial story that prompted it is of an incident in Cairo in 2001, where 52 men arrested on a gay disco boat were imprisoned, beaten, and taken to court, where many of them hid their faces behind white tissues. One, with his face not fully covered, was photographed crying, and the press image became iconic in the Egyptian gay community. Khaled has transformed Ark Kültür, an art center located in a Bauhaus-style 1930s residential house, into the elaborately fictionalized home of that crying man. Having gone into exile in Istanbul, he lives the life of a sophisticated but utterly melancholic dandy. A glass cabinet in his living room contains no family photos, but rather framed close-up shots of brushwork in the cruising area of a park; on his piano, he has placed multiple pictures of a crying boy—a common kitsch motif originating in the 1950s. In his winter garden shower, a monitor continuously plays a seven-minute scene from Maher Sabry’s movie All My Life (2008), which is credited as being the first Egyptian movie openly addressing the subject of homosexuality, including the case of the Cairo 52. Like in Orhan Pamuk’s nearby Museum of Innocence, which houses a permanent exhibition of objects from the 1970s related to Pamuk’s novel of the same name from 2008, Khaled provides an audio guide that makes the display part of an overarching narrative of sorrow and remembrance of things past. But in contrast to Pamuk’s nostalgia for a bygone era, his proposal extends from the recent past into a poignant now.” 15th Istanbul Biennial, “a good neighbour”, by Jörg Heiser, Art Agenda, September 18, 2017.