Beyond the Horizon, Across the Divide
MASQ – Maq‘ad of Sultan Qaitbey
Center for Culture and Arts
Mamluk Desert Region, Cairo
4–17 December 2020
Artists: Mena El Shazly, Nouran Debaan, Rawan Abbas
Nouran Debaan is a Cairo-based visual artist who uses painting, screen-printing, mosaic art and sculpting in her work. She is a graduate of Helwan University’s Faculty of Applied Arts and spent a year studying toward her BA in Fine Arts at Cardiff Metropolitan University in the UK. Her most recent show was as part of the juried sculpture exhibition “Daughters of the Nile” at MASQ earlier this year.
About Nouran Debaan’s work in the exhibition Beyond the Horizon: Nouran approaches subjects by methodically dismantling them and delving into what lies beneath the surface, just beyond the horizon, unseen and neglected. In this new, site-specific installation, Nouran recreates the biological structure of photoreceptors in the human eye with flat pieces of colored glass that are suspended and connected by metal wire. The installation’s map-like layout is also a nod to cartography of the neighborhood of Cairo’s so-called City of the Dead. Nouran uses glass as a medium because she appreciates its transparency and fragility and the way it contrasts the sturdy stone and metal of the structure of the Gulshani complex in which the exhibition is situated.
Rawan Abbas is a Cairo-based mixed-media artist and a graduate of Helwan University’s Faculty of Applied Arts. She studied for one year at Cardiff Metropolitan University in the UK as part of her BA in Fine Arts. Rawan has exhibited extensively over the past two years, including at the 2019 Youth Salon at the Palace of the Arts and as part of this year’s group exhibition “My Favorite Things” at Mashrabia Gallery.
About Rawan Abbas’s work in the exhibition Beyond the Horizon: As an artist, Rawan is driven to continuously explore the interweaving of history and humanity, and the stories and traditions that mold us long before we came to be. She adapts the common threads of human expression that are consistent across continents and throughout history. Rawan is malleable in her use of mediums and adapts to what best suits a project, with the aim to inspire the audience to see themselves and others in a new light and rediscover their surroundings. Her new installation for this exhibition brings the outside into the interior space of Gulshani by taking its point of departure from a map of the area. On one hand, her intricate yarn tapestry contrasts with the sturdy stone blocks of the ancient building, and on the other, bringing both materials together highlights their shared accomplishment of constructing something substantial from individual parts.
Mena El Shazly is a visual artist and researcher born in Cairo. Her work spans embroidery and installation, but is grounded in video. She received her degree in visual arts from the American University in Cairo and the Home Workspace Program at Ashkal Alwan in Beirut. Mena is also the current Artistic Director of Cairo Video Festival for video art and experimental film organized by Medrar for Contemporary Art, and previously worked intensively on the festival archive, which she believes is an important resource for moving image researchers, curators and artists.
About Mena El Shazly‘s work in the exhibition Beyond the Horizon: Mena’s practice is concerned with sensitive surfaces that carry knowledge and memory, the body and entropy. Her interest in documenting politics through the personal makes her aware of certain constructions of history that she references in her work. She has produced work reflecting on substance abuse, as well as the socio-political effects and mechanisms of television, and its impact upon various layers of the spectator’s identity. Her work has been exhibited in Egypt at venues including Contemporary Image Collective, Medrar for Contemporary Art and the Palace of Arts in Cairo’s Opera House Complex, as well as internationally. Mena’s project “Sun Outage”(2017) at Gulshani uses footage of water, mostly shot in an industrial wastewater treatment plant in Egypt, to re-enact the setup of a satellite communication system indoors. It draws on imagery from satellite dishes over the roofs of Cairo and water lilies in the Nile as seen from underwater. Ancient Egyptians believed that first there were the waters of chaos covered with darkness. Then the water lily rose from the abyss, and opened its petals to reveal the Creator, the Sun God, that would daily banish universal darkness, which would then reign at night. In the language of satellite communication systems, a sun outage is an interruption or distortion in satellite signals caused by interference from solar radiation.