Cut and Paste
In “Cut and Paste,” Huda Lutfi presents a psycho-geographic archive of emotions, gestures, figures of speech and images that circulated in public space during Egypt’s transitional period. All new work produced over the past two years, these collages, found objects and sculptures combine to create one impressionistic story of the recent past.
The exhibition’s title refers to the material process of making collages, as well as the archival process of collecting information from the internet. But it also refers to a certain frenetic process of history-making, in which the same events seem to repeat themselves over and over again. The works in “Cut and Paste” are highly repetitious in nature, whether because they are produced in serials, or compositionally rely on the repetition of the same phrase, text or image. They are infused with that strange phenomenon of déjà vu—an in-between, indeterminate experience that seems so familiar and banal, but that has particular significance in this political context. If we feel that we have already experienced the present moment, then we should be able to predict what is about to happen—but, as Lutfi’s work suggests, that sense of control is always illusory.
Derrida’s “archive fever” has been raging in the region since the revolutionary spring of 2011. There is a paranoia over the authorship of this as-yet-unformed historical narrative; a desire to grasp it and understand it through archival materials; and a destruction and manipulation of archival materials in an attempt to influence that narrative. There are institutionalized, consciously crafted moments of amnesia that coexist with moments of overly determined, overly present memories.
An archive of absences, “Cut and Paste” attempts to capture those fleeting moments and moods that are edited out of traditional historical narratives. The artist was attracted to these materials impulsively, because they triggered intense emotional reactions. They were not selected according to a hierarchy of perceived value, and this body of work does not pretend to be a comprehensive record of events; instead, it is highly personal, non-linear in its chronology, and blurry in its actual presentation of events. In fact, “Cut and Paste” is not a record or documentation of reality at all, but a remixing of a lived experience.
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