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‘If by Qarm Qart’ at Mashrabia Gallery

Mashrabiya Gallery: ‘If by Qarm Qart’

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reviewed by
Anne de Groot
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Mashrabiya Gallery: ‘If by Qarm Qart’

The
revolution, and the aftermath of it, has inspired artists from all around to
work on new projects. Many galleries have been hosting post-January 25th expositions,
whether with paintings or photographs. One such example is Mashrabia Gallery in Downtown Cairo, which
currently hosts the exhibition ‘If by Qarm Qart’, ending on July 7th. 

Qarm
Qart is the nickname of Italian artist Carmine Cartolano. Cartolano came to
Egypt in 1999 and has since been working at the Italian Cultural Institute in
Zamalek while working on his art. He has had several previous exhibitions and
uses various techniques for his work. He takes pictures, puts scissors into
them and embroiders what’s left with beads and sequins. 

His new exhibition
‘If by Qarm Qart’ was inspired by the Egyptian revolution and
the plot of George Orwell’s book Animal
Farm
. In the book, the animals start to revolt against the owner of the
farm. The pigs take over the farm, and become a symbol of anarchy and human
greed. In the end, instead of the situation improving after the revolution, the
situation worsens.

Every
picture has a label reading ‘What if….’, and is accompanied by a soundtrack. The original plan was to have personal audio equipment
for each visitor from which they can listen to each piece’s song. This disappointingly
hasn’t worked out, and instead the song title is just written by each piece. The
soundtrack suggestions for the exhibited pictures range from Wust El Balad and
Alanis Morisette to Maria Callas.

For instance, the title of the picture where
Mubarak is portrayed as the devil is ‘What if…we don’t demonize?’ The
soundtrack for the picture is ‘Bladi’ by Souaad Massi. Other titles are ‘What
if…there is freedom of speech and expression’, ‘what if…we learn from history’
and ‘What if… we care?’. Perhaps the most striking title is ‘What if…I
was not in Egypt?’, a question that many young Egyptians probably ask themselves.

The pig
theme is incorporated in almost every picture. Sometimes the animal is hidden in the
corner and almost difficult to spot, at other times the pigs take over the
entire picture. The highlight of the exhibition is undoubtedly the three pieces
showing a policeman and a pig battling for a chair. Above them are the words ‘The
People Need the Regime’, written in Arabic. At 5500LE, this piece is the
most expensive one of the collection. Other pieces start at 2500LE.

‘If by
Qarm Qart’ takes the art of revolution to a new level. Incomparable to any other
work, whether revolution-related or not, this exhibition is truly one of a
kind. The fruit of combining Animal Farm
with Egypt’s political situation makes this an interesting and
thought-provoking exhibition. Head to Mashrabia Gallery and step into the
wonderful world of Qarm Qart.

360 Tip

Start on the left side of the gallery as you enter, and you will see the pictures in order.

Best Bit

Qarm Qart’s style is unique. Even though his work seems colourful and playful, the pictures carry profound messages.

Worst Bit

The audio problem has eliminated a potentially fantastic facet to the exhibition.

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