The Swiss artist Bettina Amman worked with Khaled ‘Ali in his glass-blowing workshop next to Sultan Qaitbey’s mosque to produce a chandelier-shaped object composed of manually formed dark glass pieces in the forms of human bones, provoking reflections about the frailty of the human condition by choosing the brittle, fragile material.
Salma Badawy, an Egyptian artist from Alexandria, set out to capture aspects of the Egyptian culture, of which she believes Sayed Magdi is representative, by portraying different traits of his personality through six objects created in the same material and techniques that Sayed uses in his stucco workshop located in the “City of the Dead”
With a series of magnifying lenses manually produced from reused glass in Khaled ‘Ali’s workshop, the English artist David Murphy proposes to take a different view on Cairo, where the vision, blurry and streaked with odd colours and yet allowing a finer focus through magnification, offers a new perspective.
In nature, “lightning stones” of coarse glass form when a thunderbolt strikes quartz sand. The French artist Vincent Voillat worked with Khaled ‘Ali to reproduce them artificially, and strung them in sets reminiscent of Minimal Art pieces of the 1960s, as objects freezing in time the different human and natural forces that created them.
Working together with Khaled ‘Abd al-Hamid, the Egyptian artist ‘Amr Fekry invented and crafted a musical instrument in which he strived to express the sacred order of Ancient Egyptian beliefs and mystical Sufi concepts through traditional woodworking techniques that Khalid uses in his carpentry workshop in Sultan Qaitbey’s area.
Michał Puszczyński with Osama ‘Ali and al-Sheikh Makram, potters
The Polish ceramics artist Michał Puszczyński worked with Osama ‘Ali and al-Sheikh Makram in the Fustat area that housed pottery workshops for centuries, and is now changing rapidly. To preserve for posterity a memory of the disappearing tradition, they captured the smoke from traditional wood-fired pottery kilns in specially designed ceramic capsules.
With the stonecutter Kamal Barra, the French artist Vincent Voillat fashioned a satellite TV dish in a block of locally quarried limestone. The piece evokes ancient times when people attempted to connect through stone artefacts with messages from beyond the Earth long before signals from the outer space became commonplace in households.
The Egyptian artist ‘Amr ‘Amer, working in the heart of Historic Cairo with Hussayn Gaber, produced of wax two copies of the head of Michelangelo’s famous sculpture David. One of the otherwise identical pieces is a candle that burns out during the exhibition, inviting questions about their status as pieces of art.
Dani Ploeger, the Netherlands-born artist based in London, and Atef ‘Abdel ‘Ali encased in the latter’s workshop two tablet computers in sheet metal. Unable to transmit or process information, the tablets reverted to the status of basic physical objects from this of high-tech devices, while they are still functioning, as they keep charging.
Vincent Voillat with Sayed Hussayn, alabaster artisan
Working with Sayid Hussayn in his workshop in the shadow of Cairo’s Citadel, the French artist Vincent Voillat extended the repertoire of popular tourist souvenirs by producing in alabaster miniature copies of sections of concrete protective barriers that have been erected in front of many official buildings in the recent turbulent times.
The Egyptian artist Bassem Yousri created a huge sculpture of wood using the same tools and techniques as these employed by Muhammad Younis and his workers in the workshop in Historic Cairo. The larger-than-life human-like figure stands on three legs like the butcher’s chopping blocks that the workshop typically produces.