Exhibtion: ‘Model Citizens – Continuum’

29.01.2010 – 14.03.2010:
Exhibition ‘Model Citizens – Continuum’ at the Schunck Glaspaleis, Heerlen, NL

Afbeelding 2

The ‘Model Citizens – Continuum’ project is the result of an artist-in-residence project taken up by artists Wouter osterholt and Elke Uitentuis in the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo. Intrigued by social changes taking place within an urban setting, Osterholt and Uitentuis created an astonishingly true-to-life scale-model of the Antikhana district of Cairo. Collaborating with local artists, the personal wishes of local residents were assimilated into the model. as a result of which the once so realistic model was gradually changed into an utopian Lilliputian landscape.
And the model continues to evolve. During the exhibition, on a daily basis, the artists together with Ibrahim Saad and Hady Galal Kamar will continue working on the model in order to visualise the remaining ideas of local residents of Antikhana.

The ‘Model Citizens – Continuum’ project came about in the context of Made in Mirrors, a long-term international collaboration, aimed at reflection on, presentation of and exchange between artistic practices in various regions of the world. See also www.madeinmirrors.org. The exhibition is accompanied by a publication which is available in Schunck* from 29 January.

Continuation of the project in Holland

After the exhibition/workshop in Cairo we transported the maquette to the Netherlands. From 18th of September until 17th of December it was on show at the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture, known in the Netherlands as Fonds BKVB in Amsterdam.

After the exhibition in Amsterdam the project ‘Model Citizens’ traveled to Schunck*, formally know as the ‘Glaspaleis’, Heerlen. This exhibition opened the 29th of January and will be on show until the 14th of March 2010. Hady Galal Kamar, Ibrahim Saad, Wouter Osterholt and Elke Uitentuis are working on the model during opening hours of the museum. We continue realizing the proposals of the people living or working in the neighborhood in Cairo. There are a lot of ideas that are still not visualized within the model. We use this exhibition to continue the project.

We’re confronted with the fact that the model no longer functions as a tool or utility. Within the context of a Dutch museum, the project changed from an active engagement into a more reflective documentary about the sociology of a specific locality in Down-town Cairo. This change creates a lot of discussion about the differences between the Dutch and the Egyptian society.

We realize that us working on the model doesn’t speak to the audience as much as it did in Cairo. Working on the model is only benefiting us, as we are able to finish this part in order to start working on the publication that we want to bring back to Cairo. Our presence seems important though. We’re able to guide the audience around, tell all kind of stories related to the project and hopefully creating awareness towards the functioning of this foreign place that most of the visitors of the museum are not familiar with.

In the conversations with the visitors we find a lot of misinterpretations of how countries in the Middle East function and we are confronted with ingrained prejudices about Arabs and Muslims. Hopefully ‘Model Citizens’ can function as a multi-layered and nuanced documentary. Our role can be described as the narrator. We guide people through the documentary, we let them focus on certain things and we open their eyes for the sociological beauty of this particular microkosmos.

Model Citizens, The Timeline

In order to grip the actual history of the neighborhood we constructed a timeline with research including: Scholarly books, published articles, websites, information found in archives and personal interviews. The timeline can be considered as a ‘work in process’; relevant information can be added during the exhibition period.

Research: Dina Kafafi

Timeline: Dina Kafafi, Elke Uitentuis and Wouter Osterholt