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Concrete Waves, Souvenir of a Revolution

by Vincent Voillat with Sayed al-Mokh, alabastar artisan

Egyptian alabastar, 2014

The project was inspired by concrete barricades that were placed in front of many official buildings after the turbulent events of the “Arab Spring” in 2011 and the ensuing political turmoil in Egypt. As the security enforcement strengthened and consolidated, the high walls of huge concrete cubes that blocked access to certain streets were replaced by more permanent barricades of purpose-produced prefabricated blocks. To make climbing them difficult and to deflect blasts, these barricades have a curved shape resembling giant frozen wave-crests. Voillat reproduced them in miniature in Egyptian alabaster. This beautiful material, geologically different but similar in appearance and properties to “true” alabaster, was highly valued in ancient Egypt and used to produce exquisite pieces of sculpture. This, matched with the aesthetic qualities of the stone itself, makes it a popular material for souvenirs marketed to tourists, usually figurines of ancient Egyptian gods and sphinxes, miniature pyramids and obelisks, sometimes mosques and minarets or Christian symbols.

 

Voillat, not without a sense of humour, added another aspect of contemporary Egypt to this repertoire of forms.

Klio Krajewska, curator

 

 

Sayed al-Mokh has worked with many foreigners before, so he didn’t find collaboration with Vincent unusual. With his many years of experience, he did not face any difficulty in producing the objects. He used the same technique and the same tools as he uses in his everyday work. The only tricky part, according to him, was the shape tapering as it rises to the tip.

 

The conceptual idea of the project was new to him and he felt Vincent was a real artist for whom carrying out his concept precisely was important, which Sayed valued. He felt that Vincent and himself share common cultural values and artistic language, and of course his 55-year experience in the profession was crucial for the project.

based on the interview with Taher ‘Abd al-Ghani of ARCHiNOS Architecture