We are all the protagonists of our own lives. Everything we do is in the first person. But how many of us are active participants in these lives of ours? I think it’s fair to say that most of us don’t really do much other than look out the window. We let the world around us write our scripts for us rather than the other way around.
A relatively established artist friend of mine once advised me to stop making work about the Egyptian revolution, stating that it is way too early for that kind of work, that we need to wait forty years before being able to do this sort of work. This to me signifies the mindset of your typical window gazer; someone who spends their life watching and commenting rather than participating. In terms of art, it signifies art that delivers commentary from a safe distance, as opposed to the kind of art that is very participatory. Not in the sense of the audience participating in the creation of the art, but rather art that participates in dealing with the immediate struggles and concerns of the audience.
An excerpt from Concept Pop, written by Ganzeer for the Cairo Review of Global Affairs, in which I cite the work of Huda Lutfi, Hany Rashed, Ahmed Hefnawy, and Mahmoud Khaled. Read the entire article here.
Presentation & Discussion with Ganzeer | Wednesday, July 23rd 2014 at 7:00pm | Interference Archive, 131 8th st no. 4, Brooklyn, NY
Ganzeer highlights the social and political relevance of some of the artwork produced in Egypt over the course of the last 3 years and why it frightens Egypt’s new dictator. Ganzeer also explains why you don’t need a crisis as obvious as Egypt’s to create relevant art.
Ganzeer is the pseudonym used by an Egyptian artist who’s done everything from graphic design to product design, installation work, interactive videos, street art, comix, writing, and more . Ganzeer, which means “chain” in Arabic, is the founder and regular contributor to the blogazine Rolling Bulb. Ganzeer is quite accustomed to adopting completely new styles, techniques, and mediums to adapt to the topic he is tackling at any given time, prompting Bidoun Magazine to refer to him as a “contingency artist.” The Huffington Post has placed Ganzeer on a list of “25 Street Artists from Around the World Who Are Shaking Up Public Art.” Al-Monitor.com has placed him on a list of “50 People Shaping the Culture of the Middle East.” Ganzeer is also one of the protagonists in the critically acclaimed documentary Art War by German director Marco Wilms. He was involved in the independently organized “Shit or Freedom” (2013) exhibition with Hany Rashed, Ammar Abo Bakr, and Ahmed Hefnawy at the abandoned Viennoise hotel in downtown Cairo.