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Jan 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

From Sand to Concrete: The Transformation of an Egyptian Soldier

With Menna Khalil, Yosra Sultan Moussa and Mohammad Shawky Hassan.

January 25th of 2011 marked a new arena of possible encounters in Egypt between citizens and the regime, protestors and the police/military, and people and public space. Set against the backdrop of enduring violence, the Egyptian soldier has evolved, both physically through increasing interactions with the public, and perceptively through an engrained characterization in collective imagination. Menna Khalil documents this process of transformation, and the conflation of historical attributions to the army with the people’s present encounters, through the layering of medium.

The presentation is based on a recitation of a personal journal, offering an imaginary manifestation of a soldier’s (namely Kareem) recollection of events around the 2011 Egyptian revolution, accompanied by audio recordings and a projection of a digitized album containing images and illustrations, some collected and others drawn. Caught between the legacy of the army as a national revolutionary-defense force in the glorious days of the 1950s and the notoriety of other brutalizing state security forces in the last three decades, Kareem ponders over the utterly unfamiliar encounter with everyday security dynamics in 2011 Egypt. Through swelling interaction with the public, Kareem evolves, flustering engrained characterizations of the soldier in collective imagination. Drawing on her fieldwork in Egypt, Menna extends and manipulates medium – images, narrative, and sound – deploying a sensorial montage in an attempt to strike a balance between aesthetic and academic method, steering the documentation of narrative in a space where non-fiction and fiction (writing and image making) are muddled.

The presentation will be followed by a discussion with Yosra Sultan Moussa and Mohammad Shawky Hassan.

This Program is part of ArteEast’s series “Making the Real: Practices of Documentation”

Menna Khalil is an independent researcher and writer working between North Africa, the Middle East, and the United States, interested in pursuing further graduate studies in Anthropology. She holds a MA in International Human Rights Law from the American University in Cairo, and a BA in International Studies, Economic Theory, and Art History from DePaul University in Chicago. Menna’s academic interests in anthropological approaches to language, sensorial mediation, and aesthetics have guided her work on translation and forms of storytelling. She has been carrying out ethnographic work on the relationship between citizens and the Egyptian army following the ouster of former President Mubarak.

Yosra Sultan Moussa is a PhD candidate in the Middle East and Islamic Studies program at New York University. As an aspiring historian with a focus on 19th Century Egypt, she looks at the aesthetics and practices of urban life in Cairo. More specifically, she is interested in chronicling the interchangeable experiences between inhabitants and the city.

Mohammad Shawky Hassan is an Egyptian filmmaker currently living in New York City. He holds a B.A. from the American University in Cairo (2004), and a graduate diploma in film directing from the Academy of Cinematic Arts in Cairo (2009). In the academic year 2010-2011, he was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Columbia University School of the Arts, where he made his last short fiction film It Was Related to Me – Balaghany Ayyoha Al Malek Al Sa’eed. He is currently ArteEast’s film programmer.


Jan 1, 1970
12:00 am


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
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