An Ear of Mud, Another of Dough in the International Cairo Biennale
An Ear of Mud, Another of Dough won the 8th International Cairo Biennale. The work was composed of a wall covered with sculptures in the shape of ears (made of dough and clay) and a video projected on the opposite wall.
The 8th International Cairo Biennale
International Art Exhibition
Museum of Fine Arts, Akhnaton Gallery and Gazirah Gallery in Cairo, Egypt
Curator: Ahmed Fouad Selim
Work exhibited: An Ear of Mud, Another of Clay
Size: 600 × 800 cm
Brenda Khalil, Art Talk in “Heliopolis. The Voice of the Community”, April 2001. (www.heliopolisegypt.com)
An installation which can be a combination of painting, sculpture, architecture, collages, videos and sounds, has become the podium where the activist artist pronounces condemnation of the world's ills. Taking on a unique role at the Biennale, visually intriguing, often frighteningly raw, most installtions carry a message: broad-spectrum comments on the fallibility of man and the dilemmas of contemporary life. Such an example is the winner of the Grand Nile Prize: the Egyptian artist, Moataz Nasr El Deen, for his installation at the Museum of Modern Art. It is basically a large space curtained throughout in grey. A sonorous droning sound, heard all over the museum, compels one to seek it out. To the right, the curtain is covered with innumerable pair of sculpted ears, a brown and a white one in each pair. Opposite to them, a silen film is shown in continuum: people from all walks of life, shrugging their shoulders, shaking their heads: perplexed, horrified or indifferent. The title of the installation is based on the Arabic saying: “One ear of dough and the other of clay” (“turning a deaf ear”) and condemns the sad indifference towards the suffering of children through abuse and exploitation.
To read the entire article: www.heliopolisegypt.com/052001/azza.htm (in English)
World Art in “Egypt Insight Magazine”, April 2001. (www.egyptinsight.com)
Grand Prize-winner of the 8th Biennale is 40-years-old Egyptian artist; Moataz Nasr with his video installation entitled An Ear of Mud, Another of Dough translated to mean “in one ear and out of the other”. A long up-lit curved wall is covered with 7000-clay bisque and bread dough ears, together with a video recording of numbers of people shrugging their shoulders in apathy making a evocative and haunting impression. Nasr's point being that Egyptian society must confront the hard and deep behavioural attitudes of many contemporary social problem such as child abuse and to recognize the resulting social crisis. Not until people are willing to listen and openly discuss these often shameful issues will change come about. Many times deep-rooted problems are carelessly neglected.
Nasr is a younger generation artist accumulating accolades and growing in importance. Winning the Grand Prize has sealed his success and much expected of his future career. Nasr is an artist truly concerned with expressing his deep inner self and exploring creative questions. He explains: “What I do in my work... I see as being... a route to really knowing who I am... where I am. Knowing myself”.
Yasmeen M. Siddiqu, Cairo Biennale in “Flash Art International”, May-June 2001, vol. XXXIV, n. 218, p. 145.
Egyptian artist Moataz Nasr's One Ear of Dough & One Ear of Clay evokes a familiar Arabic proverb in a composition of 2,000 dough and clay ears, along with a video capturing people across the social spectrum making a common gesture of indifference.
Marilu Knode, Local Conditions, Western Forms. The 8th International Cairo Biennale presented an uncommon opportunity to study the intersection of Middle Eastern culture and contemporary art. Report from Egypt in “Art in America”, January 2002, p.52.
Biennale organizers regularly select several younger Egyptian artists for the show, while clearly anointing one as the next “star”. This year it was Moataz Nassr-Eddin, a self-trained sculptor in his 30s who is playing an increasingly important role in bridging the gap between the older and younger generations and also acting as something of a cultural entrepreneur. Nasser-Eddin curated the Egyptian portion of the Biennale of Ceramics held in Cyprus last spring, and he has been asked to curate the next Youth Salon. (Began in 1989, the Youth Salon was the first officially sponsored show that acknowledged the needs of artists under 40. Many of today's best Egyptian artists first started showing publicly there.)
Nasser-Eddin's mixed-medium installation at the Biennale, for which he won the Grand Nile Prize, was a simple illustration of the Egyptian phrase “one ear of dough, one of clay,” which is roughly equivalent to “in one ear, out the other.” A tunnel-like entrance whose high walls created a sense of claustrophobia led viewers to a darkened room where a large video projection showed various Egyptians of different ages and social classes shrugging their shoulders. A large, curved wall, illuminated from below, featured hundreds of pairs of over-life-size ears in the two mediums of the homily, but the buzzing audio had the unfortunate effect of turning the ears into giant flies. The entrance was cramped and circuitous, like the streets of Cairo, but also indicating the Egyptian mentality “where you never get a straight story” [Conversation with the artist, Mar. 23, 2001, Cairo]. Nassr-Eddin's first foray into video needed refinement; his sculptural ideas are often compromised by too-quick material solution.
Iolanda Pensa, Biennale del Cairo in “Flash Art”, giugno–luglio 2001, anno XXXIV, n. 228, p. 137.
Vince il premio della Biennale Moataz Nasr, con un video e una parete ricoperta da orecchie. “Un orecchio di fango e l'altro di pasta”: così dice il proverbio egiziano, per chi non ascolta e se ne frega. Tra la centinaia di orecchie, sfilano nel video le gustose espressioni di tanti passanti che alzano le spalle. Tra i volti anche quelli dei bambini, degli artisti, degli artigiani e di un famoso ladro, celebre per i furti su commissione.
Névine Lameï, Installation pour un monde de sourds. Moataz Nasreddine, le lauréat de la biennale, illustre le proverbe: “Une oreille de boue, une oreille de pâte” in “Al-Ahram Hebdo”, Avril 2001, p. 28. (En français)