Installation, Video Art

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Cupboard: Video-installation 1998 / 1999

my vision was to craft a deeply evocative and intimate portrayal of the complexities and nuances of human relationships, personal identity, and the symbolism of domestic spaces. Drawing inspiration from a family conflict involving my Egyptian friend, Alaa Deswouky, I sought to capture an intense 20-minute snapshot of his life within the confines of an old storage room.

In creating the film, I employed a fixed high-angle camera, reminiscent of a surveillance camera view, which imbued the work with a sense of voyeurism and unease. This video, revealing a privacy disclosure long before the advent of social media, explores the notions of personal boundaries and the increasingly blurred lines between public and private spaces.

The old modular cupboard serves as the heart of this installation, acting as a transformative object that assumes various functional roles—a storage unit, desk, seat, and bed—symbolizing the different aspects of Alaa’s life. Through the cupboard, I aimed to embody the protagonist’s struggles and adaptability amidst life’s limitations. The prominence of the cupboard in the video underscores its ironic, yet poignant, significance as a central character within the narrative.

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The auditory elements of the installation were carefully crafted with the incorporation of a radio as an essential component. By offering a random and artistic soundtrack, the radio juxtaposes the protagonist’s emotional intensity with an almost surreal auditory experience, intensifying the work’s impact by emphasizing the disparity between the subject’s internal turmoil and the external world.

The presentation of the video itself was meticulously designed to merge content and context. I chose to play the video on an old television set, placed within one of the original cupboard pieces. Displayed as part of the “SEVEN” group exhibition at Cairo Atelier in 2000, this thoughtful integration of the installation’s components highlights the interconnectedness of the various thematic elements and my intention to immerse the viewer in the complex emotional landscape being explored.

Notably, “Cupboard” is one of the very earliest video art and video installation experiments in the Egyptian and Middle East contemporary art scene, showcasing the innovative potential of this medium.

Through “Cupboard,” I endeavored to create a captivating video installation that delves into the intricate nature of human relationships, personal identity, and the meanings embedded within the spaces we inhabit. Utilizing innovative objects, settings, and sound, I aimed to offer a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant experience that lingers with viewers long after they have left the exhibition space.


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