The first edition of Consortium Commissions took place between 2018 and 2020, and included eight international partners who commissioned new projects by six artists, musicians, and performers which were produced and presented in 12 exhibitions, three performances, and two concerts.
The artists, curators, and partners
The commissioned artists were Basma Alsharif, Jasmina Metwaly, Maurice Louca, nasa4nasa, Shadi Habib Allah, Yazan Khalili.
Other artists shortlisted were Doa Aly, Fayçal Baghriche, Joe Namy, Lynn Kodeih, Mahmoud Khaled, Noor Abu Arafeh, Shuruq Harb.
The curators and partner institutions were Agnès Quackels at Kunstcentrum BUDA, Aram Moshayedi at The Hammer Museum, Danjel Andersson at MDT, Kurt Overbergh at Ancienne Belgique, Richard Birkett at ICA, Ainslie Roddick at Centre for Contemporary Arts, November Paynter at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Tirdad Zolghadr at KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Consortium Commissions was covered by international press, with reviews and interviews including Basma Alsharif in ArtAsiaPacific, Artforum, Frieze, and The Skinny; Jasmina Metwaly in Daily Bruin; Maurice Louca in BRUZZ; nasa4nasa in Mada Masr; Shadi Habib Allah in Art in America, Frieze, Mousse, The National, and The Skinny; interview with Mophradat’s director Mai Abu ElDahab in The National.
A Philistine is centered around a handmade book that exists in English, Arabic, and French. A 60-page novella incorporating history, science-fiction, and eroticism, it is accompanied by six standalone drawings and three photographs, two chairs with a coffee table, carpeting, and warm lighting. The viewer becomes a part of the work by sitting down to read the book.
The book tells the story of a character, the Philistine, taking the train from Lebanon to Egypt via Palestine after learning of her estranged father’s death; she is setting out to retrieve his belongings along the route. Beginning in the present and ending in 30 BC, the narrative rewrites the historical Haifa-Beirut-Tripoli Railway and Palestine Railways, suggesting what such a journey would be like today given that both lines were discontinued with the creation of the state in 1948.
Basma Alsharif (b. 1983) is an artist and filmmaker, born in Kuwait of Palestinian origin, raised between France, the US, and the Gaza Strip. She has a BFA and an MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Basma developed her practice nomadically, living and working in Chicago, Cairo, Beirut, Sharjah, Amman, the Gaza Strip, and Paris. Major exhibitions include: the Whitney Biennial, Rencontres d’Arles, les Modules at the Palais de Tokyo, Here and Elsewhere at the New Museum, Al Riwaq Biennial Palestine, the Berlin Documentary Forum, the Sharjah Biennial, and Manifesta 8. She is a shortlisted artist of the Abraaj Group Art Prize 2018, received a jury prize at the Sharjah Biennial 9, and was awarded the Marcelino Botin Visual Arts grant.
Anbar, a three-channel video installation with accompanying textile components, centers on the cultural signification of military uniforms in the aftermath of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Here Jasmina considers the uniform as an emblem of the paranoia and anxiety that descended on Egypt in the years following the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak. The videos employ various formal devices that intimate different approaches to filmmaking while showing the ways in which ideology and power are embedded to the folds of everyday life.
The videos are accompanied by a suite of three uniforms that Jasmina produced in collaboration with the Polish costume designer Marta Szypulska. The garments play up the decorative use of military insignia and camouflage in contemporary fashion in order to further underscore how laws regulating uniforms are a proxy for safety and fear, standardization and national identity. Taken together, the works speculate on how uniforms confer power and serve as disguises for ordinary civilians who enter the ranks of the military.
Born to an Egyptian father and a Polish mother, Jasmina Metwaly (b. 1982) is a Cairo-based artist and filmmaker, and a member of the Mosireen collective. She received an MA from the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan and a Postgraduate Diploma at the Byam Shaw School of Art at Central Saint Martins, London. Jasminaʼs work has been exhibited at international art venues and festivals including S A V V Y Contemporary in Berlin, Sfeir-Semler Gallery in Beirut, Townhouse Gallery in Cairo, Cairo Documenta, IFFR, and Berlinale Forum Expanded. She has also collaborated on projects with filmmaker Philip Rizk. In 2015 their feature-length film Out on the Street was presented in the German Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale and at MoMA during the exhibition: Films from Here: Recent Views from the Arab World. In 2017, she was an artist-in-residency at DAAD in Berlin.
Maurice Louca’s new composition is sparked by his longstanding desire to explore working with bespoke musical instruments adapted to play Arabic maqam. Taking up the chance when a commission for a new project came up, Louca found himself in Indonesia tuning a gamelan to play this traditional Arabic scale, and sitting with a Turkish luthier to customize a guitar’s fretboard.
To bring his composition to life, Maurice brings together “A” Trio, one of the Arab world’s oldest improv bands, with their very singular way of playing prepared classical Western instruments, as well as a cellist and a harpist, all while experimenting on the new instruments, together forming this unpredictable and extremely ambitious new arrangement.
Maurice Louca + Guests (A Trio/Anthea Caddy/Khaled Yassine/Christine Kazaryan). Anthea Caddy: cello, Maurice Louca: gamelan/percussions, Kristine Kazarian: harp, Mazen Kerbaj: prepared trumpet/electronics, Sharif Sehnaoui: prepared guitar, Raed Yassin: prepared double-bass, and Khaled Yassine: gamelan/percussions.
Maurice Louca (b. 1982) is an Egyptian musician and composer living and working in Cairo. His debut solo album Garraya was released in 2011 on the 100COPIES label, and his 2014 release Benhayyi Al-Baghbaghan (Salute the Parrot) on Nawa Recordings. Maurice is a co-founder of the bands Bikya, Alif, The Dwarfs of East Agouza, and Lekhfa. He was guest curator of Beirut & Beyond 2017, and has composed for numerous projects of theater, film, and contemporary visual art. He frequently tours Europe and the Arab world — recent gigs include Cairo Jazz Club, Shubbak Festival in London, Dancity Festival in Foligno, Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, Sweden Inkonst, CTM Festival in Berlin, WORM Rotterdam, OCCII in Amsterdam, Recyclart in Brussels, Karlstorbahnhof in Heidelberg, Südpol in Lucerne, Bee Flat in Bern, Cave 12 in Geneva, Instants Chavires in Paris, Le Lieu Unique in Nantes, Kunstencentrum BELGIE in Hasselt, Vera in Groningen, and Baustelle in Leipzig.
Maadi Sports Club in Cairo, April 16 and 17, 2019
For SUASH, nasa4nasa compiled a number of movements that are shuffled, reconfigured, and repeated to adhere to pre-established patterns, in collaboration with musician Asem Tag. Influenced by the squash court, they begin to think of choreography as a way of organizing time and space in order to ultimately experience an exhausted and unstructured dance. This exhaustion of structure transforms the space into an atmospheric landscape that romanticizes the red grid they occupy, bringing a female quality to the foreground. Asking: How can you slow down time in a space that demands otherwise? How do you create a rhythmic occupation? How can you dissolve (into) a space? The failure of the imposed grid creates an unobtrusive ending.
nasa4nasa is a dance collective based in Cairo, co-founded by dancers Noura Seif Hassanein and Salma Abdel Salam in 2016. Salma (b. 1989) holds a BA from the American University in Cairo, completed the three-year professional program at the Cairo Contemporary Dance Center (CCDC), and received her MA from NYU Tisch. In 2016, she received the DanceWeb scholarship. Salma teaches performance and dance theory at CCDC, as well as various movement and dance courses across Cairo. She is a certified IBBFA barre instructor and is studying to become a Feldenkrais practitioner. Salma has performed with choreographers such as Benoit LaChambre, Tino Sehgal, Yoshiko Chuma, Karima Mansour, Mirette Michail, Mohamed Shafik, Adham Hafez, and ExNihilo, and has been published by Ibraaz and ICI Paris. Noura (b. 1985) is a dancer and visual artist. She received a BA from the Faculty of Fine Arts at Helwan University and completed the three-year professional program at CCDC. She has exhibited at the Cairo Youth Salon, Grand Palais Paris, Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, Tache in Cairo, Photocairo 5, and Gypsum Gallery in Cairo. She has received scholarships from the Henri Jurriens Foundation and DANCEWEB. Noura has performed with choreographers and artists such as Mohamed Shafik, Ex Nihlo, Karima Mansour, Mirette Mechail, Marten Spanberg, Hend el Balouty, Shaymaa Shoukry, and recently with Doa Aly at Art Dubai and the Sharjah Biennale.
Shadi Habib Allah
Shadi Habib Allah’s new work Free Rain began with an immersive engagement with corner stores in Liberty City, Miami, in order to examine government welfare policies and their impact on a largely disenfranchised and marginalized population. Serving as hubs for local communities and centers for non-monetary forms of exchange, the stores maintain an interdependent relationship with their clientele by selling groceries on credit or exchanging food stamps for cash. These exchanges embody the impoverishment, scarcity, and financial inequity that form the basis of the project. Prompted specifically by the distribution policies of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the personal relationships between storeowners and customers, the project consists of a series of images and sculptures that approximate the quotidian nature and social reality of areas such as Liberty City, marked by racial and economic disparity.
Shadi Habib Allah (Jerusalem, Palestine, b. 1977) received a BFA from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and an MFA from Columbia University. He was twice awarded second prize at the A.M. Qattan Foundation Young Artist of the Year Award. He was the 2012 recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and has attended residencies at Cittadellarte, Fondazione Pistoletto in Biella, and Gasworks and Delfina in London. He has exhibited at Palestine c/o Venice at the Venice Biennale, Art Statements at Art Basel, the Sharjah Biennial, and the New Museum Triennial. Exhibitions include Biscuits and Green Sox Maaike at Reena Spaulings, New York, Empire State at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome, and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, Frozen Lakes at Artists Space, New York, and Nouvelles Vagues at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris. His films have screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Hamburg Film Festival, Courtisane Festival Belgium, and the Norwegian Film Festival. He lives and works in New York.
Yazan Khalili’s Medusa is a video installation based on the artist’s longstanding engagement with digital archiving in times of political unrest. Yazan addresses the rise of facial recognition technologies. The human face as a basic mode of identification triggers well-known dystopian tropes and scenarios. However, technology is created by humans and their respective weaknesses, and thinking technology needs to be informed by human imagination in its overtly emancipatory capacity.
Yazan Khalili (b. 1981) lives and works in and out of Palestine. He received a BA from Birzeit University, an MA from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, and an MFA from the Sandberg Institute. He was co-founder of Zan Design Studio and the winner of Extract V Young Art Prize 2015. Solo shows include On the Other Side of the Law at Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, On Love and Other Landscapes at Mumbai Art Room, Mumbai, and Imane Fares Gallery, Paris, The Aliens at Transit Gallery, Mechelen, and Regarding Distance at EOA.Projects, London. Group shows include Post-Peace, Württ. Kunstverein Stuttgart, Al Riwaq Biennial Palestine, the Jerusalem Show, Searching for a Present at Espoo Museum of Modern Art, the Shanghai Biennale, The Plough and Other Stars at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, A Million Lines at XII Baltic Triennial, and La Mer au Milieu des Terres//Mare Medi Terraneum at Es Baluard, the Berlinale, and Sharjah Biennial. He teaches at Al-Quds Bard University, and is chairperson and acting director of the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre.