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The domestic dwelling is the ultimate private space. In Egypt, social norms stress on the notion of the home as the sanctuary of its inhabitants. Furthermore, religious doctrine regulates access to private spaces and discourages people from discussing their private affairs with others. In such a context one can see why reality TV has not taken off and why the use of the private space as the substance for artistic work is limited. Despite this, Egyptian television provides its viewers with varied depictions of homes in the form of rigid constructed sets which tend not to alter greatly from one production to the next, leaving the viewer with a class-based categorization of domestic dwellings. It is also not uncommon in popular areas of the city and in the countryside to be invited into someone’s home with very little prior acquaintance.
The search for a furnished flat in Cairo involves peering into what on the surface appear to be private domestic spaces. Constructed from a mishmash of furniture and appliances, they do not have the unity one finds in domestic spaces of a permanent nature. The variety of the styles within one space carries a multitude of oft-conflicting meanings that are partially deprived of their significance as indicators of tastes and preferences, financial considerations and practicalities being the primary shapers of decisions in such situations.
"In a furnished flat in Cairo…" brings together 7 artists (4 Egyptians and 3 Swiss) to share a furnished flat for one month. The transient nature of the artists’ interventions in the space serves to question the preconceived ideas of the "home" as a provider of security and a definer of identity. The space becomes a platform for the deconstruction of familial structures, domestic behaviors and the mechanisms through which one’s surroundings work to reinforce identity and social status.
"In a furnished flat in Cairo…" starts on 1 January 2004 and will be open to the public from 5 - 25 February 2004. The project is funded by the Arts Council of Switzerland (Prohelvetia) and curated by Hala Elkoussy.
In a furnished flat in Cairo
Open to the public:
5 - 25 February 2004
Curator: Hala Elkoussy
(Contact - see text below)