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Elkoussy’s new photographic installation is an addition to the Peripheral exhibition. Photographs portraying many of the cheap objects of desire to be found in Cairo’s open-air markets are arranged in a grid and mounted in a large scale light box. The piece blinks erratically on and off in blues, greens and reds like the rented strings of colored lights signaling festivities in Cairo streets. Shot individually and with careful lighting, the objects are portrayed in the language of sophisticated commercial product-shots. In some cases the objects are intended to facilitate a desired change in the buyer, i.e. clip-on hair extensions. In others, they are simulacra of desired identities that are themselves a kind of social currency, i.e. Barbie-style dolls, a child’s officer’s cap. Often they are both. At the same time, the installation repeats the assumption underlying these objects’ existence; these objects are desirable in and of themselves as inauthentic objects.

Extract from text by Clare Davies for Stedelijk Museum Bureau exhibition, 2006:
Hala Elkoussy
Peripheral and (Other Stories)

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