On Thursday’s NewsHour, Jeffrey Brown reports on three artists from Cairo with their own perspectives on the fascinating city he visited earlier this year: jewelry maker Azza Fahmy, conceptual artist Lara Baladi and dancer and choreographer Karima Mansour.
Baladi, a Lebanese/Egyptian artist, began her career as a photographer, but her work has since grown into large, multimedia installations that use painting, video and collages. Her work, she says, addresses both collective and personal memory, creating worlds of shifting boundaries. Her art has been exhibited all over the Middle East, the United States, Europe and Japan. Most recently she won the Grand Nile Award at the Cairo Biennale for a piece called “Tower of Hope,” a three-story brick structure similar to buildings found in the slums at the outskirts of Cairo.
Fahmy, an Egyptian jewelry maker, began learning her craft more than 30 years ago from master silver and goldsmiths in the alleys of Cairo’s famous market, Khan el Khalili. She was one of the first women permitted in the male-dominated profession. After years of apprenticeship and studies at City of London Polytechnic, she started her own business, selling pieces out of her home. Her business now includes a suburban Cairo workshop of 200 people, boutiques in the Middle East and London, and her work has been shown in art museums throughout the world. Fahmy is known for incorporating Arabic poetry in the calligraphy of her designs and has also helped document and revitalize the ancient jewelry styles and traditions from the region.
Mansour, an Egyptian choreographer and dancer, studied film at the Cinema Institute in Cairo and dance at the London School of Contemporary Dance. In 1999, she returned to Egypt to form the country’s first independent contemporary dance company. Her work takes from both fields, using video, light installations and spoken word. Mansour mostly performs and choreographs work in Europe, since modern dance is still an emerging art form in her home country. She makes her North American debut at the Kennedy Center’s Arabesque Festival with a piece called “Temporament,” a duet with percussionist Ahmad Compaore about a woman struggling to escape traditional forms of behavior. Below is a clip of Mansour performing her dance, “Nomadness”: