…Cairo stories, 2011
…Cairo stories is based on more than 215 interviews conducted with women from many social and economic classes in Cairo between 2003, when the US invaded Iraq, and through January 2011. The impetus for this project, part of the series Not Reconciled, is a further reflection on some of the theoretical perspectives around notions of representation, history, subjectivity, and translation, particularly as these ideas circulate across diverse cultures.
These interviews, conducted in English and Arabic, are collaborations. The interviews were conducted in Arabic and English and translated during the interviews so that the discussions would reflect the tenor of what was said. The translator and the interviewee were active participants in both the narrative arc of their story and the development of the project as a whole. The taped interviews were then vetted by a diverse group of Cairene women who became my interlocutors where we actively discussed the social and political contexts for each story. From this group of 214 interviews, 15 stories were chosen that we think are representative of the specific cultural milieu of Cairo and which differentiates Egypt from the other countries in the Middle East.
Among the many reasons that English-speaking Egyptian/Arabic actors were employed for this project is that most of the women I interviewed would not have consented to being filmed. Yet, they very much wanted their stories to be told. The use of actors inhabiting the lives of these women also brings many other dimensions to these stories as it refers back to those questions about representation raised during the beginning of what became post-modernity in the art world; this was also the genesis for the series Not Reconciled of which …Cairo stories is a part. I planned to film in Cairo in January 2011, but that proved impossible so we moved the filming to NYC just as the revolution in Egypt began. During breaks in the shooting, everyone was connecting with friends in Tahrir Square. Two of the stories included in the series are first-hand accounts from those moments.
There are many more stories in this series than the fifteen presented here…
With thanks to:
Livia Alexander, Scott Bailey, J. Cameron Brueckner, Suzanne Cotter, Catherine David,
Meena Dimian, Luke Di Tomma, Miriam Ghani, Aleya Hamza, Larissa Harris, Dan
Hartnett, Randy Hudson, Lameece Issaq, Marwa Maziad, Leanne Mella, Joe Monge,
Nimet Naguib, Dina Ramadan, Ayman Ramadan, Brad Rego, Betsy Reid, Sarah Rifky,
Marrin Robbins, Lisa Rubenstein, Fred Ruckel, Ken Saylor, Beth Stryker, Lynn Taylor,
Aida El Torie, Townhouse Gallery, William Wells, Brian Kuan Wood, Jack Young, and
especially the many women who generously shared their stories and the actors who
brought their stories to life. For a full list of credits, please contact Judith Barry directly.
Co-commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation, Foundation Daniel Langlois, Montreal
and American University in Cairo. Additional funding provided by the Guggenheim Foundation.