Global Crossings Awards Gallery
Introduction Abdel and Amal Kenawy
Andres Burbano
Hellen Sky Kibook
  Kim Machan Nalini Malani Regina Celia Pinto Shilpa Gupta
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Abdel and Amal Kenawy - Global Crossings Award Winners  

Abdel and Amal Kenawy
4 Omer Ibn ‘Abdel Aziz street,
El Haram Street,
Tel: +2 010 306 6755

Artist Statement
The Room, 2003
Video performance
PAL system; 10 minutes
Dimensions variable

  Abdel and Amal Kenawy
Copyright © Abdel and Amal Kenawy 
Amal Kenawy's work spans a breadth of mediums, creating a space in which she negotiates her own identities vis a vis the world around her. In a recent work she entitled The Room, her brother, partner, and mentor Abdel Ghany Kenawy helped her put together ribbons, ties, and straps abound. An identity is slowly diluted into oblivion as Kenawy explores the dream-world of illusion against the memory of reality. She brings the unseen into a visual space by sensing a metaphorical world that hides behind the physicality.

It is a room that reflects the much bigger world where the social being is a product and reflection of their surroundings; customs and conditions. Alone on stage, the visual artist embroiders adornments directly onto her flesh. White cold tiles surround her, furnishing a grid-fixing the profile of the artist and the white wedding dress next to which she sits slowly, mechanically sewing her palpitating heart onto the white cloth of a sleeve. Her two hands remain encased in white lace gloves. The absence of the body from which the heart has been removed and to which the plastic legs of dolls have been attached, the presence of the artist on stage, de-atomizing herself, underlines the renunciation of physicality at large.

Copyright © Abdel and Amal Kenawy

Personal Statement
While working with The Room project, it had no artistic preference but it was rather a project that drove me towards a style of self-expression. I found myself thinking about the strange relationship between man and his society. This is when I found myself inside a room. The internal room surrounds my body, while the outside was represented by society.

The internal self is a representation of the imagination, the controversial and the non-realistic. It is always an invisible and private sphere of thought, a true production of social truth. Thus The Room is not simply a location of space but a relationship between place and time. It is a realistic presence of time with an illusion of dreams and memories of the human self that do not cease to exist.

I never imagined that I could do my work while absorbing every detail around me. I also knew I could not revert to an actor to play my role inside The Room. It would not had been real no matter how talented and experienced the actor could have been. Every detail imagined, every image edited were planned and I abided by my story board. The music appeared in my mind and was transferred as I imagined it flowing through the air as moving streaks of light.

For the GX award, I am nominating the brother-sister team of Abdel Ghany and Amal Kenawy from Cairo. They have been collaborating on large-scale installations since 1997, and these works exemplify that there is no “natural” barrier between the worlds of art and science, whether they are tower-like structures containing glass balls rising up towards the ceiling, or tunnels leading to a block of frozen ice in a room surrounded by chiffon. Abdel Ghany brings to the works his skills and knowledge in the physical sciences and Amal brings to the works her background in visual art (performance, video). They work very closely together in the conceptualization and execution of each projects but Abdel Ghany is largely responsible for problem solving of the structural and scientific concerns, and Amal co-articulates the vision and experimentation of form, time and space.

Abdel Ghany’s statement about his relationship to science and art perhaps best articulates the approach that appears in their works:

“Scientific knowledge is a means of understanding reality, and its various guises and manifestations. In the realm of art, scientific knowledge can be used to examine the relationships, dynamics and structure of things and beings, culminating in a more thorough understanding of their nature.

I use functionalist notions of causality to gain a better understanding of the potential meaning inherent in the materials that I use and their consequences. The relationship between form and concept, material and energy is the basis of my work, rendering the process of creation more organic and less contrived. I borrow from the laws of nature, biology and physics. This knowledge has been integral to my work, which integrates elements of nature, with the force of the human condition replete with emotions and memories to articulate an artistic discourse that transcends time and place.”

Amal is also a performance-artist in her own right, and Abdel Ghany contributes to most of her solo pieces, further enforcing their unique ability, as siblings, to collaborate artistically. When observing the materials, you will notice the CV title is only for “Amal Kenawy” but all their projects are listed.

Abdel Ghany Kenawy
· 1969: Born in Cairo, Egypt
· Lives and works in Cairo
· 1989: Studied sculpture in Faculty of Fine Arts, Cairo, Egypt.

Amal Kenawy
· 1974: Born in Cairo, Egypt
· Lives and works in Cairo
· 1997/98: Studied in the Academy of Arts, Cinema institute
· 1999: BA in Painting & graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Helwan University, Cairo, Egypt
· 1997/1999: Studied Fashion Design, Cinema Institute.

Born in Cairo in 1974, Amal Kenawy studied painting and sculpture at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Helwan University and film at the Cairo Film Academy. In 1996, Kenawy received the first prize in sculpture at Egypt's annual Salon of Youth exhibition. At the 1998 Cairo Biennale, Kenawy and her brother, Abdel Ghany Kenawy's collaborative work, secured them the UNESCO grand prize. Her mixed medium, installation, sculptural and video works have been shown in countless exhibitions in Cairo, Beirut, Paris, Dakar and Bethlehem among other locales. Kenawy most recently showed her work as part of the Afrika Remix exhibition touring from 2004 - 2006; the Kunst Palast Museum (Düsseldorf), the Hayward Gallery (London), the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), and the Mori Art Museum (Tokyo). In December of 2004 she completed a three month residency in Aarau Switzerland.

My brother Abdel Ghany Kenawy and I started doing collaborative projects in 1997. So far we have jointly produced 11 art projects covering the full range of sculptures, installations, video installations, and performances. We use various mediums to accommodate the concepts inherent in each project. The bulk of our work is dedicated to the understanding and use of scientific laws, to link between the scientific and the human, and to establishing the unity within the absolute and general laws of nature.
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