On CLUSTER’s “Creative Cities” conference in Cairo


Chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats order, because it is better organized.” – Terry Pratchett, Interesting Times.

In the Creative Cities: Re-framing Downtown conference at the American University in Cairo (for which Cairobserver was a media sponsor), Cairo Lab for Urban Studies, Training and Environmental Research (CLUSTER) attempted to “emphasize comparative and interdisciplinary approaches to issues related to public space, heritage and urban culture, the revitalization of downtown in the context of gentrification and securitization, and urban governance.” As the current government recognizes, announcing a large-scale bricks-and-mortar planning vision for a place like downtown Cairo is far easier (and probably more lucrative) than grappling with the multiple realities, economies, histories and activities that actually go on there. CLUSTER, however, undertook to herd these cats in a conference that recognized that the very contradictions of downtown are the root of its possibilities.

Read more at Cairobserver

7th Cairo Video Festival at Medrar


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I was one of three selectors alongside Hala ElKoussy and Morten Dysgaard for the seventh edition of Medrar’s veteran moving image festival, coming up 10th-25th December. Selecting from this incredibly diverse set of submissions was a slightly hallucinatory process (in the best possible way) and I discovered some incredible work along the way.

As well as the festival itself, I want to highlight the festival’s incredible archive at Medrar, which is an immense resource for curatorial research.

The Knife-Sharpener’s Wheel


My review of Ayman Ramadan’s solo show at Townhouse West, “Mere Real Things.” Almost inevitably, it also becomes an institutional discussion.

Exhibition view, Mere Real Things, Townhouse West.

Exhibition view, Mere Real Things, Townhouse West.

Somewhere on a plinth out in the private residential compound Westown stands a wooden knife-sharpening wheel of the kind still carried on the backs of old, bent tradesmen around the city’s popular neighborhoods. It is painted gaily in red, green and yellow and, if you ignore its everyday function, brings to mind both the fairground and the fairytale. It has been placed on display by the artist Ayman Ramadan as part of his exhibition of found objects, Mere Real Things. And barely anyone who lives in Westown has any idea what it is for.

Read more at Mada Masr



Someone is leading a life parallel to your own. This person looks like you, answers to your name, lives in your house. But they are not you.IMG_2249
This publication by Alex Reynolds brings together her epistolary project But They Are Not You (2014) in which volunteers began to receive letters ‘from’ themselves, via the return-of-post system, penned after extensive research by the artist. The addressees in the letters are all other volunteers in the project. They never met each other.

This is intended as a postscript to the project, published alongside full details of the project, all the research surveys, and the letter transcripts themselves.

Huge thanks to Alex Reynolds and Gabriel Pericàs at Biel Books.


Circumnavigation: a text for Rana ElNemr and Cimatheque.


In June 2015, Cairo’s new and exquisite alternative film centre Cimatheque opened its doors in the first of its public events (though not the first of its activities at all). For this they invited Ala’ Younis and Rana ElNemr to co curate screenings and works from their extensive archive.

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ElNemr approached me to reflect on the choice of four film works that she selected for screening, with a loose theme of working, appearing, and making art in the streets of Cairo. The works referenced are: Giran (Neighbours), dir: Tahani Rached (2012); The White Line, dir: Hossam and Ali Moheeb (1962); The Sad Song of Touha, dir: Atiat El-Abnodi (1972); Monument of the Buzzwords, Samir El Kordy (2012).

The publication included an essayistic use of images, laid out as part of the design work of Ahmad Aiyad, which cannot easily be reproduced here. Instead I use generic images as illustration, but you should pick up the print publication to see Aiyad’s work.

Some small contextual notes have been added to aid the comprehension of an international readership. The Arabic translation will be uploaded soon.

Sarah Samy at Nile Sunset Annex

I am involved in this exhibition opening tomorrow night at Nile Sunset Annex
التبلور في شكل
أو التبخر إلي ذكريات

                                                 الـ “كاللو” في رجلي من المشي علي الـ #أرض قرب يختفي

                   في أعلي قمة الليل
                   هؤلاء الحمقي المتوحشين
                   ينزلقون علي الأهلّة

                                                                                          بيضتا طائر طنان انحشرتا في حلوق
                                                                                          ألسنتهم في 
                                                                                          طوارئٍ لغوية 

         أجزاء مولدات الغاز الجديدة مُصنّعة من
         المسح الضوئي
         لا يوجد سوي همهمات بعيدة

to crystallize into form or to
evaporate into memories

the calluses on my feet from walking on #Earth are almost gone

all the way up, to the top of the night
those feral fools’re sliding down crescent moons

two hummingbird eggs got stuck in our

their tongues
into an emergency of languages

new gas generator parts are fabricated
from the scans

there’s just a distant hum

Nile Sunset Annex invites you to the opening of a solo exhibition by Sarah Samy at 7pm on Saturday 13 September, which will also see the launch of the publication for our previous show, Museumish, with Mariam Elias, Paradoxia, Sobhy Guirguis and Wadiaa Shenouda. For the preparation and duration of Sarah Samy’s exhibition, Nile Sunset Annex includes Mia Jankowicz. Nile Sunset Annex would like to thank Jens Maier-Rothe for helping to make this exhibition possible. Bring your own drinks. Exhibition open until October 11, Saturday 12-6pm or by appointment.