The Pick 5
For three weeks in July, seven artists who are current students or recent graduates from Cairo universities will come together in the First Floor Gallery for “The Pick 5,” Townhouse’s semi-annual survey of emerging artists.
Unlike past years, this iteration of the Pick was not curated around a particular medium, theme or specific university course. The selected artists represent media including painting, sound, video, performance, animation, photography and textiles; and engage with diverse themes from the nostalgia of intimate, partially obscured memories to political issues of sacrifice, power and control.
“The Pick 5” was curated by Saba3aktouber, a loose collective of artists and writers based in Cairo who have weekly conversations (usually about art) that are recorded and put on the internet. Earlier in 2011, one of those conversations focused on the phenomenon of the “young artist” show. From “Younger than Jesus” at the Whitney to a myriad of examples closer to home, exhibitions framed by labels like “youth,” “student” and “emerging” (including this one) are too numerous to count. But how useful are these labels really in bringing work together? Is it still worth it to pay attention to them anymore?
The members of Saba3aktouber spent weeks discussing these questions amongst themselves. After selecting the participating artists based on a system of referrals from professors and working artists in the city, Saba3aktouber talked to the artists about these questions too, during a three-week open studio and critique period organized in collaboration with the Space for Contemporary Art prior to the opening. The curated conversations that result serve to frame an exhibition that gives a fragmentary snapshot of artists just embarking on their careers.
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