March 14 / April 3 – 2009 

A Spiritual Video Installation/Photography Exhibition 

It’s always a delight to experience Amr Fekry’s work, whether personally on a regular basis at his warm and cozy rooftop abode or publicly at one of his annual exhibitions. Amr is a unique Cairene and a diverse artist with a background in film, theatre, dance, photography and music to name but a few of his trades. Amr is very proud to be an Egyptian and you can see that in his work, yet what’s charming is that the unifying themes that bind his oeuvres together are usually universal ones. If you are in for some spiritual depth (and a contemporary artwork which doesn’t pretentiously try to be depressing, dark, and meaningless) then Nun is recommended for you.

According to Amr, “Nun was the god in ancient Egypt who personified the primeval waters, the chaos which existed before there was shape and form.” In other words, Nun (or Nu as it is known in English) is part of the Ancient Egyptians’ version of creation myths. Interestingly, the origin behind the Arabic letter Nun is a “hieroglyph of a fish in water” [a snake]. “In Arabic, Nun means large fish or whale,” (Wikipedia) which is very fitting because thematically the whole installation/exhibition could be split into two categories: earth and water. 

Earth was symbolized by large squared photographs of an elephant’s or several elephants’ body parts. The texture of the elephant’s skin resembled crackled dried mud, which brings to mind possibly the Prehistoric World or the time of Dinosaurs. Some of the photographs exhibited were from a previous exhibition by Fekry called Rituals of the Last which took place in Makan (2007). Amr didn’t just re-use his old photographs; he creatively recycled them with Photoshop through superimposition… a powerful technique which was another major theme in Nun. When you superimpose one image onto another, you get a third image which makes you wonder about the first two and the third and new one. It’s almost like marriage and birth. The earth photographs were clearly filtered with a brown tone. 

Water was symbolized by a series of photographs in a blue color scheme: there is specifically one of a boy bathing in some waterfall. Generally, that series has healing effects on its viewers with its cleansing effect and its sharp contrast to the earth photographs next it. Water (but more like Nun) was the theme behind the hypnotic video installation. The length of which is 10 minutes however it feels like eternity being that it macrocosmically symbolizes the universe as a whole. We swim through space in an abstract portal of salt and a mirror-frame projected onto which are wavy patterns in real time and sometimes in slow motion. The patterns evoke telekinetic energy, the Milky Way; healing crystals… it’s really up to the viewer. It’s abstract but in the good sense of the word. The portal teleports you to where you want to go with your imagination. This is the beginning and the end, it’s… Nun. 

There were other photographs different from the thematic earth and water ones: some of which were sensual and others which were just mysterious and/or dark. The superimposition technique mystifies one creating a coded image.
The use of salt as opposed to a regular flat surfaced screen was a very interesting choice because again it emphasized the theme of superimposition and texture. Some people reached in and grabbed some grains of salt to taste. When you think of the ocean and of its vastness and its depth and of the diversity of its sea creatures, one wonders. There’s something eerie about the ocean… something mysterious… something intimidating… something almost Sci-Fi… something holy. Psychologically, the ocean often symbolizes the psyche… no wonder the ebb and flow of its waters are controlled by the moon which supposedly influences us in the way we feel. Spiritually, the ocean represents wisdom. In meditation, you dive deep within in an ocean of silence to hopefully reach enlightenment one day.

If we refer to the Chakras (or the energy centers in the human body according to Far Eastern traditions) we realize that the Base Chakra which is situated at the last bone in the spinal cord is our root (like the root of the tree). It keeps us ingrained into earth (materialism and worldly concerns)… it’s like gravity. The element associated with that Chakra is earth. The next Chakra is the Sacral Chakra located at the ovaries/prostate area, which is responsible for our sexual energy and its element is water. Now, if we look at the themes of Amr’s exhibition/installation (earth and water), we’ll notice that there’s an upper movement in energy, which could mean that Mr. Fekry is trying to raise our consciousness in a subliminal way. The question is how will the energy move from downward to upward? The answer is: Kundalini, which in Indian tradition is a goddess symbolized by a snake who “when it rises to the head, it unites itself with the Supreme Being.” Remember the early definition of the Arabic letter Nun possibly meaning snake and Nu being the water from which all creation arose? Maybe you can relate to Om, which “is reputed to be the resonant vibrational tone of the non-dualistic universe as a whole. In Buddhism, Om corresponds to the crown chakra and white light.” Robert Beshara

 

Participating artist:
Amr Fekry

 

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