Sharjah Art Gallery | AUC Center for the Arts | AUC New Cairo, Cairo, Egypt 31 Mar 2014 - 26 Apr 2014
Malak Helmy, 'Records from the Excited State, Chapter 3: Lost Referents of Some Attraction' (still/detail), 2012. Video, sound.
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 AUC’s New Cairo campus. The exhibition brings together three films, an 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. They refer to other sites, studies, research…and each other. In the exhibition “Placeholders” (2014) are texts that replace images. They find themselves among other new works. “Statements from the Compound” reveals a time-based story cast on unfixed photo paper. Gradually exposed, the light-sensitive medium gives in to environment, the work becomes unstable and the story once present fades, frame-by-frame. A copy of a fountain alludes to the prototypical real, “marble marble fountain gurgle fountain marble marble” (2014), and a small square patch of three-dimensional grass “Introduced Natives” (2014) preludes the show.
“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…. 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.
Opening Reception: March 31, 6PM.
How To Get There
For the opening, shuttle busses will leave at 5pm from AUC Old Campus, Tahrir Square, Entrance Mohammed Mahmoud Street (opposite McDonald’s). Return from AUC New Cairo at 8pm.
Saturday 23 April, 2014, 5PM
A program of talks, performances and responses with Antonia Alampi, Brian Conley, Jens Maier-Rothe, Matthew Rana, Sarah Rifky, Nile Sunset Annex 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.
The Sharjah Art Gallery of the American University in Cairo launches AUC_LAB, a new series of monographic exhibitions, projects and publications by artists from the region, organized in collaboration with local partners. Commissioned by the AUC Sharjah Gallery, directed by Kaya Behkalam. The first projects in the series feature AUC graduates Malak Helmy and Hassan Khan.