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


One thought on “The Knife-Sharpener’s Wheel”

  1. Hey Mia,

    This is more than thinking out loud than commenting on your article and the farthest possible from being a critique.

    Something orientalist looms over the presence of these objects. It’s something that’s tricky to escape around most of everything-art in Egypt. But what will be interesting to me, if he’s really into putting his fellow Egyptians in the orientalist shoes by showing them the gap between their world and the world of these objects. Pretty far-fetched, I know.
    It’s just it’s not the longest shot that people will be exoticizing these objects, the problem is that I don’t think there’s enough here to “foreground the apparatus” of this exoticizing process to get away with it.

    He also is putting them in the comparison you mentioned above “Look, you flimsy contemporary art-goer, here are things, things that you are too rich and pampered to understand.” Which is a class issue. But I believe if there’s something that’s making you class conscious then consequently it’s making you selfconscious (which is something that has to do with identity, especially about the point of view they are engaging these objects from.)
    But again, is he caught in the same trap of being too museumlike or he’s being provocative to them to ask these questions.

    Frankly, I’m saturated to my nose of the use of all these “emblematic” objects to refer to an umbrella of things related to identity, history, nostalgia and class struggle. They’ve been used beyond recognition in all kind of arts in every possible form and context. I’m not sure I can handle another Readymade manifestation of those objects.

    That’s about it,
    you have a good night 🙂

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