Ace of Spade stamp. Photo by Nour Eltigani Ace of Spade stamp. Photo by Nour Eltigani

‘Ace of Spades’ exhibition unfolds sexism and racism

Thu, Sep. 14, 2017
CAIRO - 14 September 2017: "Ace of Spades" exhibition at Soma Art School and Gallery rebrands history through those who have been downtrodden.

Inspired by the rich history of the “Ace of Spades,” Egyptian artist Shatha al-Deghady and Sudanese artist Amado Alfadni collaborated in an exhibition organized by Soma Art Gallery on a conceptual monoprint series.

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Shatha Al-Deghady’s art work. Photo by Nour Eltigani

The Ace of Spade is known for being unlucky. “It all started with me doing research about poker cards and how it went to Europe. I found out that it went with the Mamluk soldiers,” Deghady explained.

Because it was introduced in Europe through soldiers, poker cards were associated with death. The church has banned poker cards at the time which led to the spark of an underground movement. Cards were later legalized after the elites expressed an interest in them.

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Amado Alfadni’s art work. Photo by Nour Eltigani

Taking advantage of the presented opportunity, the king at the time took over the Ace of Spades for monetization. People would have to pay a ‘Jizya’ or a tax to be able to receive the Ace of Spade for a complete deck. The card is later stamped to show that the tax has been paid.

This triggered another underground movement of reprinting the Ace of Spade. As a result, anyone who was caught with an Ace of Spade would be instantly prosecuted with the death penalty.

Eventually, the Ace of Spades was known as the “unlucky card”. Deghady and Alfadni chose to think of the people who are born unlucky and are instantly stamped with a negative imprint.

“I am trying to tell the story of the unspoken history, the side of history no one talks about,” Alfadni said. For this series, Deghady chose to work with women while Alfadni decided to work with the dark skinned. Both highlighted the struggles that are engraved within different races and genders.

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Amado Alfadni’s art work. Photo by Nour Eltigani

By presenting the dynamic connection between racism and sexism that were promoted by early 20th century propaganda, the artwork shows the shift of powers to favor those who are regarded as unlucky to ultimately empower them.

The artwork incorporates ink on paper, a stamp and archived photographs to create an intricate collage. The “Ace of Spades” exhibition is on display at Soma Art School and Gallery until October 4.
 
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