Monday, 6 December 2010

Installing at the Cairo Biennale

Artists from around the world participating in the Cairo Biennale are beginning to trickle in. Like any exhibition there are a lot of details, and when dealing with foreign shipments it is not as easy as one may think. I feel lucky as Bridgeway Shipping somehow performed miracles and had my work through customs in a matter of days. Other artists I have talked to have not been so lucky. It's hard to comprehend why there's so much complication with the clearance of artwork, yet I know people who work with shipping electronics make the process seem seamless.

Day 2 on site, was a bit more of the same. As the set up crew is dealing with multiple spaces, I was waiting for some more paint, and then the panic started when the wall that is to support the LCD screen was not a supporting wall, so it was going to be difficult to deal with hiding the wiring. A crew of carpenters soon arrived and began with a plan of inserting a 2x4 plank in the center of the wall. After a few translations and drawings, they were on board for reinforcing / building another wall. We also needed to create a step at the base of the wall to house the computer and other wiring. With all the waiting around that might seem to be happening, once a plan and decision are made then everything is done in lightning speed. It took about 30 minutes to get the construction done.

Although I am used to how things work in the Gulf and Middle East – as much as finding what's going on – it has been wonderful to be in a place that you can easily find people who understand what you need when constructing projects and also find the bits and bolts one may be accustomed to when visiting places like Home Depot and Lee Valley Tools, or even a local hardware. It is quite surprising that as much as fishing rods are sold in Dubai, fishing wire is much more difficult to come by.

Back to Mahmoud Mukhtar Museum to unpack the large crate and get it on the wall.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

First night in Cairo

Organized chaos has its charm when first stepping off the flight and into the Cairo airport. I was instantly met by Hady, one of the Cairo Biennale's public relations rep, with an A4 paper bearing my name. Two suitcases, a 1 meter grey tube, carry on, computer, and camera bags , we swiftly went through customs with some standard questioning and exchange of smiles.

It took about one hour to arrive to the hotel in Garden City, where cars just weaved in and out of a paved roadway creating about four lanes in what most would consider a two lane highway. Witnessing only a few bumper to bumper instances, I flashback to when a taxi weaved me through the streets of Istanbul. I was enamored by the wave of history that flashed by, and Cairo by far is wonderfully overwhelming between glimpses of the pharaonic to modern day niches.

With only a few hours around the hotel, I stepped into some of the most common experiences. Shortly I'm off to visit Mahmoud Mokhtar Museum to begin the installation, shopping for paint and whatever else unfolds.