The Virus is Spreading
Installation, Other
Cairo, EG

Mixed Media
Various Sizes

“To say the least, this is not your typical art exhibition.“
- Kareem El-Shafei, Scoope Empire

The Virus is Spreading was mostly a painting exhibition that doubled as an installation; the gallery (Safar Khan) being naturally divided into two floors was transformed into an analogy for the greater state of art in Egypt at the time whereby the ground-level featured a cacophony of imagery, textures, stencils, tags, scribbles, and half-torn posters — feeding off the chaos, energy, and concerns of the street, while the upper level became a microcosm of “establishment art”, pushing Islam, nationalism, and folklore in a typical gallery arrangement. As you climbed the stairwell to the upper level, you could feel the lower-level artwork in the process of making its way to the upper level, spreading like a virus.

The method by which the exhibition was created was somewhat unusual in that rather than create the art in the comfort of my studio prior to having it hung in the gallery, the gallery walls were instead adorned by plain wooden panels which I painted on over the course of a month prior to the exhibition’s opening, literally creating all the artwork for the exhibition within the gallery space. The result was over three dozen original works of art.

Working in the gallery space on a daily basis for a month, meant working from the early morning to the late evening, with friends and neighborhood visitors spontaneously dropping by. This allowed for a degree of improvised collaboration on a number pieces in the show, some with artist-friends from various disciplines, including: El Teneen, Keng El Gizeera, Shank, Shabana, Diaa El Said, Amro Thabit, Okasha, Mohammed Saeed, and Sad Panda.

Photos by Rowan Elshimi, Adham Bakry, Rachel Adams, and Claudia Wiens.

“ Traditional versus progressive. Old versus new. Tidy versus messy. Conventional versus revolutionary.”
- Sara Elkamel, Ahram Online

The Virus is Spreading — Cairo, 2012