Sewanee's University Art Gallery presents "Beyond Classification"

Beyond Classification art sample

Sewanee’s University Art Gallery presents Beyond Classification, a group exhibition of contemporary photography and video by women artists from Egypt, curated by Dr. Nagla Samir, associate professor of Art and Design at the American University in Cairo, in collaboration with Greg Pond, professor of Art and Art History at the University of the South. (Above, Sara Bayoumi, Identity, 5, 2013. Image provided courtesy of the artist.)

The work included in the exhibition defies easy categorization. Beyond Classification offers multiple perspectives on current political and social conditions in Egypt, and diverse strategies for communicating about those conditions in photography and video. With these multiple perspectives, the exhibition deliberately aims to counter any simplistic picture, and to provide points of view often lost in representations of Egyptian experience in popular media.

The eight young artists represented in Beyond Classification developed their work in the past few years, as the power of electronic and social media to generate political change became apparent with the revolution that unseated Hosni Mubarak. In their choice of media, the work of these artists embraces that hope even as it responds to the continued social and political upheaval faced by the country, and to the diverse issues and questions raised by current conditions.

The exhibition will be on view from January 13 through April 12, 2015.

The University Art Gallery will host a conversation about the work between Dr. Nagla Samir and Dr. Ramesh Srinivasan, associate professor of Design-Media Arts and Information Studies at UCLA, at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23, in Convocation Hall. A reception will begin at 4 p.m. and will continue after the discussion.

More about the artists and guests:

Beyond Classification art sampleMany of the artists included in the exhibition address questions about identity and religion: what is it to be a Muslim woman? What does it mean to be a woman artist in Egypt today? How do non-Muslims perceive Muslims? While some of the artists in the exhibition explicitly address feminist concerns in their work, others would resist the label, or any label, preferring to cast their work as addressing universal human concerns. The artists included in the exhibition use art as a tool for confronting constraints, deflating stereotypes, representing experience, and forging connections. (Left, Marwa Adel, The Journey, 6, 2012. Image provided courtesy of the artist.)

Nagla Samir is a media installation artist who has participated in several national and international art exhibitions, including the What's Happening Now at the Casa Árabe, Madrid, and Umm Kulthum: The Fourth Pyramid at The Arab World Institute, Paris, France. She is the director of the AUC Sharjah Art Gallery at the American University in Cairo, and teaches there as an associate professor of Art and Design. Samir has curated several exhibitions and cultural events, including the First International Media Art Forum for Youth in 2008.

Asmaa and Hend Elkolaly are media artists based in Cairo. Identical twins, they received the same art education, and work closely with one another. They have been active in the art scene for the past ten years, and their often controversial work has been a part of several group exhibitions for young and rising artists.

Mai Al Shazly is an Egyptian photographer and artist born in Cairo. Her abstract and conceptual photography has been exhibited in the 22nd Salon at the Cairo Opera House, at the Egyptian Culture Center in Rome, Italy and in the Emirates Photography Exhibition in Abu Dhabi in 2012. She was named an honorary member of the Fédération Internationale de l’Art Photographique in 2011.

Marwa Adel’s photography and graphic design, and particularly her depictions of the female figure, confront controversial issues for contemporary Egyptian society related to gender and identity. Adel has exhibited in solo shows in Cairo, Alexandria and Dubai, and in group shows in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, Senegal, London, Sweden, and Germany.

Marwa Benhalim is a Libyan Egyptian art student. Benhalim graduated in 2009from the Camberwell College of Arts, London, and is pursuing her studies in Visual Arts and Film at the American University in Cairo. She has participated in group shows in the Cairo Atelier and the Cairo Opera House.

Nouran Sherif graduated from the Faculty of Applied Arts in 2012. Her multimedia work includes sound, video, paintings, installations, performance, and photography.

Sara Bayoumi is a London-based photographer. She holds an MA in photography at London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London. Bayoumi has participated in exhibitions in Cairo and London, and is represented in the online exhibition Muslima: Muslim Women’s Art & Voices, hosted by the International Museum of Women.

Filmmaker and visual artist Yousria Ghorab lives and work in Giza, Egypt. She studied at Helwan University from 2000 to 2004, and completed a diploma in multimedia from ITI, Information Technology Institute, in 2006. Her first film, Similarity (2003) received an award for independent cinema from the Goethe Institut in Cairo. She has participated in multiple group exhibitions in Cairo.

Greg Pond’s multimedia practice combines sculpture, sound, electronic media and documentary filmmaking. Pond lives and works in Sewanee, where he has taught in the Art and Art History Department since 1999. He was recently featured in the Hunter Invitational III at the Hunter Museum of American Art as one of the most compelling artists working in the region, and has received international attention with sound installations, exhibitions and screenings in Ireland, Canada, Egypt and Switzerland. His recent work includes documentary projects about Patten Towers in Chattanooga and Trench Town, Jamaica.

Ramesh Srinivasan is associate professor at UCLA in Information Studies and Design-Media Arts. His research on media and culture focuses on the ways in which new media technologies shape and are shaped by social, cultural, economic, and political dynamics. He has studied the role of social media in collective action, including in the recent revolutions in Egypt and Kyrgyzstan. Srinivasan’s media appearances include several TEDx talks, National Public Radio, Al Jazeera, The Young Turks and Public Radio International. He has also published pieces for Al Jazeera English, the Washington Post, and the Huffington Post. He holds a Ph.D. in Design Studies from Harvard, and an M.S. in Media Arts and Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.