repetitive systems

Cairo Biennale 2008/2009
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Cairo Biennale 2008/2009
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City as Stage – the photographic and conceptual material for the photomedia installation at the Cairo Biennale 2008-09 – was collected in the Dubai International City, a housing development divided into districts named after countries (Morocco, China, Spain, England), with some that have ceased to exist (Persia). The brochure for the development makes interesting claims, for example, International City’s ‘Morocco’ features three and four storey residential buildings decorated with vibrant green tiles, natural terracottas, stucco walls and wide arch windows. The simplicity of the architecture conjures up images of life in the desert, with airy spaces and sand-coloured walls evoking an old world charm and, International City’s ‘England’ harks back to traditional London life. Two, three and four storey buildings reflecting 18th and 19th Century Georgian and Revivalist styles are topped by red gabled roofs and brick chimneys. Shop fronts on the ground floor add to the sense of old English community spirit The research involved looking at fictional scenarios developed in the built environment and contrasting them with the photographic documentation of what is actually a scenographic space, a stage designed to be somewhere it is not. We are told through text and symbol that we are not in the Arabian desert but experiencing the old world charm of the souk or Regents Park, London. We find new definitions of authenticity, complexity and simulation in this ‘city’ that has been conceptualised on the desire of the other. This is identifiable when removed from its context and reconfigured in the form of a photomedia installation.
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