April 17 - June 5, 2021
Curated by Toleen Touq and Emily Fitzpatrick
Through an immersive environment constructed of coloured lights, megaphones, masks, videos, photographic images, and sculptures, Toronto- and Cairo-based designer, artist, and architect Manar Moursi presents a multitude of considerations to the viewer: What if singular patriarchal voices of religious sermons were interpreted through mime and dance? How would neon lights adorning mosque minarets look as sculptural objects? How do residents of Cairo challenge authoritative architectures and urban master plans, while creating new meanings for public space and land use? By that token, what shapes can we abstract from these biographical networks of the megalopolis?
Using the mosque as its starting point, The Loudspeaker and the Tower (2019) examines the apparatus of the minaret as a vertical symbol of power and as a horizontal multiplier of official and unsanctioned narratives. In the farmlands and villages on the edge of Cairo at night, the colourful neon lights of minarets shoot through the darkness. During the day, however, their humble reality is exposed as simple metal supports precariously forged by residents and mounted onto homes, corner stores, hotels, and other unassuming venues. Drawing from and expanding upon these realities, Moursi’s installation revolves around a set of associated characters—residents of once agricultural lands, mosque custodians, imams, architects, artists, and a parrot—to further understand the radical complexities of these structures.
Manar Moursi is an architect and artist. A graduate of the University of Virginia, Manar also holds a dual Masters degree in Architecture and Urban Policy from Princeton University. In 2011 she founded Studio Meem, an interdisciplinary research studio. Her design work has been widely published and received multiple awards. In 2016, she participated in curating and writing for Egypt’s participation at the Venice Architectural Biennale. Her writings on urban issues have appeared in Domus, Thresholds, Lunch, Mada, Cairobserver, the Funambulist and Egypt Independent. Her book, Sidewalk Salon: 1001 Street Chairs of Cairo co-authored with David Puig was published by Onomatopee in 2015. She has taught at several institutions in Cairo and at the University of Waterloo.
Video still from The Parrot.
Courtesy of the artist. Photographed by Fadi Samir and edited by Khaled Morshedy.
The Loudspeaker and the Tower
is generously supported by the
Ontario Arts Council.