Speisekino Moabit 2013 #9

On Pyramids and Sewing Machines

Entrance: free
Menu: 5€

The artistic practice of Maha Maamoun (Egypt) and Ala Younis (Jordan) is primarily concerned with deconstructing and re-imagining iconic and populist visual representations from mainstream Middle Eastern culture. The videos Domestic Tourism II (2009) by Maha Maamoun and Nefertiti (2009) by Ala Younis both deal with Egyptian modernism and the appropriation of the Pharaonic past in a complicated process of creating icons for a grand national project.

On the occasion of the screening Middle Eastern food will be served.

Curator: Edit Molnár

Maha Maamoun: Domestic Tourism II, 2009, 62 min.

Exclusively utilizing footage from other Egyptian films that use the pyramids as backdrop, Domestic Tourism II explores the ways in which these iconic historical monuments are re-appropriated from the “timelessness” of the tourist postcard and re-inscribed into the complex political, social, and historical moment in urban narratives. In Arabic, with English subtitles.

“In “Domestic Tourism II”, my starting point was the representation of the pyramids in Egyptian cinema. My interest in the pyramids actually started when I realized how weird it is, though we see them all the time without really being conscious of them, to have these huge minimalist structures overlooking a city as labyrinthine and complex as Cairo. And also how strange it is to have these icons so physically close to the city but in touristic representations banished from the present time and place, shown mostly with the endless desert as their background and referring only to ancient Egyptian civilization. I became interested in how different their cinematic representations are. How in the latter, they are implicated in the city’s ongoing negotiations and active struggle over its past and present.“ - Maha Maamoun

Ala Younis: Nefertiti, 2009, 11 min.

“Produced and sold in Egypt after the 1952 revolution, the Nefertiti sewing machine was part of the Egyptian government’s attempt to nationalize the country’s industrial production, from domestic appliances to military warfare, and to create productive symbols of Egyptian sovereignty. The curvaceous machine was introduced to Egyptian homes with the intention of empowering women while keeping them at home, during times of war. It suffered significant design flaws, which contributed to the decline of its popularity among Egyptian households. As it failed to compete with imported models, the production of Nefertiti machines was eventually discontinued. In this video archaeology, the Nefertiti sewing machine resonates as a nostalgic symbol of hope, national pride and loyalty. It also functions as a reminder of aborted promises of progress and modernity, and of a disheartening ideological disappointment with older generations. Nefertiti questions our relationship to consumer products and the myths that surround them. Looking back at a time when industrial processes held critical economic, social and political significance, it explores the links between consumerism, national identities and the formation of political ideologies.” – Ala Younis

The project is funded by