Basim Magdy’s “Measuring the Last Breaths of Time on a Fading Scale”
              Daniel Horn
              Carried by the city’s intense traffic leaving behind the decrepit bronze colossus that is downtown Cairo, a cab ride from battered Tahrir Square to the lusher, more affluent Zamalek neighborhood feels like a prelude to Basim Magdy’s most recent exhibition. Gypsum Gallery is located on the sprawling metropolis’s green lung, Gezira Island, once known as the colonially redolent “Jardin des Plantes”—a name not unlike the discursive relics evoking a deceptively flourishing past that frequently flash up in Magdy’s entrancing films. Upon entering the gallery, one finds oneself encircled by phantasmagoric photographs the artist took at locations united only in their incongruity. Spanning the trippy rock formations of the American southwest, exhausted by tourist photography; the now volcanically inactive island of Madeira; and close-ups of coral reefs in Sharjah, the manipulated pictures are nearly all washed over by ecstatic acid hazes. Works like A World Within a World Within a World Within an Orange Coral Wall (all photographs 2014), by way of their vertiginous titling alone, are suggestive of the anachronist desire to recoil from modernity’s grip on our nervous system by retreating to actual, far-flung alterity, recuperating transcendental experience or, at least, offering colorful respite. Printed on metallic paper that enhances …
              Dispatch: Gypsum Gallery opens in Cairo
              Sarah Rifky
              The limelight on political struggle, uprisings, and Egypt’s “revolutions” over the last three years has eclipsed the otherwise unprecedented number of recent art initiatives surging in Cairo amidst the tumult. However, for many years, the capital’s growing art milieu has lacked a serious commercial gallery to introduce artists to markets, and potential patrons to contemporary art and artists. The long-standing rumor that Cairo-based curator Aleya Hamza would be launching a commercial space was confirmed this past October with the opening of Gypsum Gallery, her well-conceived venture in Cairo’s upscale neighborhood of Zamalek. A dazzlingly colorful display, the first show entitled “Spectral Days” was a solo exhibition of photo-based works by Iranian, Berlin-based artist Setareh Shahbazi, which ran from October 29–November 29, 2013. Hamza presented a whopping selection of forty new works by Shahbazi—heavily reworked photographs from the artist’s family album, which were originally shot in Tehran before the Iranian Revolution. Amounting to an assemblage of close-packed walls of works of various sizes, the installation beguiled the young, new collectors who gathered at the opening and made selections from a vivid collection of works packed with innumerable stories. The opening itself was marked by a bustle of gleaming cars, signaling the arrival …

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