7.09. - 05.12.2022
Art historian and collector Seth Siegelaub (1941-2013) points out how textiles have functioned not only as objects of trade but also as vehicles of communication. Aby Warburg (1866-1929) with his Mnemosyne Bilderatlas came up with the expression Bilderfahrzeuge – image vehicles. This expression in relation to carpets was the starting point for my research and application to Cairo Pro Helvetia.
On the 7. September 2022, I arrived in Cairo for a 3-month residency program with Pro Helvetia. The first month I lived in a shared apartment in Downtown Cairo. Close to Talaat Harb Square which is a five minutes walk from Tahrir Square. These first weeks were quite intense filled with many impressions of the big metropole. My way to digest the intensity of Cairo was to take pictures on the streets and of places I visited.
As planned on 1. October, I moved to Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center located in El Harrania (Giza) in order to learn weaving and develop tapestries. The art centre was established by the Egyptian architect Ramses Wissa Wassef in 1952. He founded the centre in order to teach young Egyptian villagers how to create art, including tapestries. He believed that children are endowed with creative power and potential.
Forced displacements of populations has been a growing issue in the last years. The first time I drove from Downtown to El Harrania I was shaken by the image of the half-demolished houses I could perceive from the Ring Road. I could see the rest of a painted Mickey Mouse; probably it was a children room, almost every level of the houses is painted in a different color. After hearing that the buildings got demolished in order to build the Highway, I decided to use the topic of increased pace of demolition of buildings in Cairo for the textile works. Besides that, I was working with several local artisans on knot carpets and sculptural works of palm wood.
Pictures by Stéphanie Baechler & Mostafa Abdelaty