The Girl Splendid in Walking
The Girl Splendid in Walking is an exhibition premiering Doa Aly’s most recent work in Egypt.
The two-channel video, The girl splendid in walking takes as its premise the story of Gradiva: A Pompeiian Fancy (1918), by Wilhelm Jensen. In the original novel, an archeologist falls in love with the bas-relief of a girl in the act of walking. Captivated by her unusual gait, he names her Gradiva. Doa Aly’s interpretation of the original text, culminates in a narrative in which a hypnotist saves a drowning girl from a fountain in order to teach her, through a pantomime act, how to walk using one leg. The entranced girl goes on, carefully tracing the sunlight seeping from the windows through her steps. In that instance, her ghost comes to life in the ruins of the Ummayad Palace in the citadel of Amman, appearing finally in a dream to the twins – accomplished craftsmen – who live in a deserted castle in Cairo. The twins, enthralled by the vision of this girl in their shared dream, set about making a portrait of her which they engage in their ritual of adoring her.
The two-screen video-poesy is almost reminiscent of romantic fairytales, but not quite. Through her loose interpretation and tightly choreographed narrative, Aly designs a set of movements fusing pantomime and circus tightrope performance to carefully construct romantic sequences that nearly verge on ridicule. The choreography articulates the body’s ability to culminate into highly productive and aestheticized instances, through limitation and control.
Also on show, is Doa Aly’s most recent video Sequence One – In Four Movements in which the artist stages her interpretation of the story of Narcissus and Echo from Ovid’s Metamorphosis. In the original story, Narcissus falls in love with his own reflection, whilst Echo is consumed by her love for Narcissus, resigned to a fate of solely existing as a voice in repetition of Narcissus’ last words. Aly approaches narrative through metronomic movement, encapsulating the recursion of the performer’s encounter with himself: she deconstructs the relationship between subject and object.
The first work to be choreographed in its entirety by the artist and the first in a sequence of four, Sequence One – In Four Movements, references earlier work by the artist such as 48 Ballet Classes (2005) and A Tress of Hair (2008), which are inspired by classical ballet and literary fiction respectively.
The exhibition will also feature Drawings #55-59, based on the work Sequence One – In Four Movements, from the Drawings series which combines elements of the human figure with studies of anatomy.
Doa Aly (1976) obtained her BA in Painting from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo in 2001. Doa Aly has participated in international group exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam in 2008; the Tate Modern, the Contemporary Art Forum, London, the Arnolfini Musem, Bristol and the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève in 2007 . Her work was featured at the International Center of Photography in New York in 2006 and was part of the 7th Dakar Biennial the same year. The Girl Splendid in Walking was premiered in 2009 at the 11th Istanbul Biennial in 2009 and is currently on show as part of her solo exhibitions of the same name at Darat Al-Funun in Amman and the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo.
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