Opens in Cairo

Opens in Cairo


Maryam Jafri, Global Slum (2012), Grid #1, Schoolroom, S/M Dungeon (Munich, LA). Detail. Image courtesy of the artist.

November 1, 2012

Beirut opens in Cairo
Labour in a Single Shot
Global Slum
How We See
What Does a Drawing Want?
& more

11 Road 12 / Mahmoud Sedky
Agouza, Cairo

Extending his her gaze to the road beyond my shoulder, he she said:

– This place is one of the unique places in Beirut in Cairo. Its owners is are half-artists half-politician, and he they serves snacks, alcohol, news, art exhibitions, workshops and films, and commission talks, essays and other investigations. And it is here that the café revolutionaries, the thieves, the exiled, the lovers, the pimps, the queers and the secret agents, the artists, the poets, the writers, the workers, the filmmakers, the architects, the thinkers, the students, can share their affinities and social sentiments, staking new grounds and taking up critical positions to reflect on this politically fluid state. [1]

Throughout this season, Beirut articulates its core questions on labour, role-play and thinking of how we make, show and see images, and what a drawing might want.

Inquiry into some of these questions started in early October 2012 with Labour in a Single Shot, a two-week filmmaking workshop led by Harun Farocki and Antje Ehmann, organised in collaboration with the CIC Cairo, Goethe Institute Alexandria and Cimatheque. Drawing on the method and decisiveness of early 19th-century films such as the Lumière brothers’ Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory, the task was to investigate the issue of labour processes, paid and unpaid, material and immaterial, rich in tradition or altogether new, capturing the choreography of a work flow within a single continuous shot.

Currently on view is Maryam Jafri‘s Global Slum (2012), the artist’s first exhibition in Egypt. Presenting the entire series for the first time, this photo and text based project explores various locations of image production as sites of labour and role-play, complicating the traditional divide between a thing and an image, reality and simulation, material and immaterial work, as it looks at these places beyond their mere function as pictures. Sourced entirely from image banks all over the world, the project draws connections between different locations as sites where representations are produced and put into play.

In the framework of PhotoCairo5, Beirut raises the issue of How We See, a film and talks program this November related to Farocki’s work. In December an essay-exhibition will contemplate the question: What does a drawing want?

Concerned about what an institution is or can be, Beirut has appointed Goldin+Senneby to investigate the legal framework and parameters of Beirut’s registration, proposing a charter for its becoming. The institution’s semantic and visual identity is gradually entrusted to the artist/design collective Åbäke, with the aim of de-constructing the presumed marque and classification of art institutions.

[1] Loosely based on an excerpt from Beirut Beirut, by the novelist Sonallah Ibrahim.


Beirut is a new art initiative and exhibition space that reflects upon institution building as a curatorial act. Sarah Rifky and Jens Maier-Rothe founded it on May 1, 2012, and are joined now by Antonia Alampi as Associate Curator.

Mindful of the rapid political changes in Egypt and the region at this crucial time of political transition, Beirut intends to provide a space of response to contemplate contemporary life from the position of art. Its activities are centred around hosting artists, projects and other institutions (locally, regionally, internationally) who wish to engage with shared questions concerning politics, economy, architecture, literature, ecology and education.

The year at Beirut is conceived in three seasons, each comprising a series of exhibitions, seminars, workshops, rotational studio and research projects, in addition to talks, screenings and one publication.

Beirut‘s facilities are open to a local and international public, including a shared residential space for visiting artists, curators and writers. It is part of Rufuf, an open art library network in Egypt and hosts CIRCA (Cairo International Resource Center for Art), an organisation dedicated to investigating the legal, financial and political histories of key art spaces, forging new means of support and securing more autonomy for art and artists.

Opening hours: Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday 12–8pm
Contact: office [​at​]
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Beirut is made possible with the structural support of Townhouse and the Foundation for Arts Initiatives.

Beirut opens in Cairo
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November 1, 2012

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