Al Khawaga & Johnny Stories, 2011

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© Courtesy of the artist & The Townhouse Gallery
Al Khawaga & Johnny Stories, 2011

6 El Nabrawy Street
Downtown Cairo
December 18th, 2011 - January 29th, 2012

(+202) 2576 80 86
Sat-Wed 12-9
film, ephemera, photography


Al Khawaga & Johnny Stories, 2011 is of and about the City, a subject that is inextricably linked to the work of Hala Elkoussy. Centre stage in the work is given over to stories that draw on the history of the relationship between the local inhabitants and the foreigners in the City. Through a collection of archival images, original photographs, documents, advertisements, books and the accompanying film “in search of a city (in the papers of Sein)”, 2011, the work puts forward an alternative reading of the topography of present day.
   Cairo through its contentious relationship to its colonial history. At a glance, the city seems to be simultaneously dilapidating and regenerating without apparent logic. Some age-old icons fall; some rise and some are revised at a dizzying speed. What of these seemingly uncontrollable metamorphoses relate to the dichotomy of coloniser-colonised, local khawaga? What remains of the Western ideals of knowledge and progress - widely adopted in the late 19th century - in the face of the harsh reality of a stagnant economy and a non-responsive political system and the current global power structure?
   The accompanying film “in search of a city (in the papers of Sein)”, 2011 takes the viewer on a journey in modern day Cairo. The trajectory of the main character, Sein, highlight key historical moments, places and characters from the last two hundred years that still find resonance in fabric of the City today. Sein ambulates to the cadence of her inner voice, a tight amalgamation of the voices of different personae that have been marked by Cairo; Egyptian and foreign writers and thinkers like Dr. Radwa Ashour, Ibrahim Aslan, Edward Lane, Roald Dahl, Penelope Lively. Sein’s flaneries are a melancholy and emblematic reflection on Cairo’s past and future.

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