Diary of the Ivory Tower - Official event Facebook page
CAIRO - 8 January 2018: The works of Egyptian artists Aliaa el-Gready and Nazir Tanbouli will be presented in a joint exhibition titled “Yawmiyat al-Burj al-’Agi” (Diary of the Ivory Tower) at the Greek Campus beginning Thursday. The 20-day exhibition is scheduled to end on January 30.
“Diary of the Ivory Tower” is a collection of artworks that explore scenes from daily routines and common situations as well as the artists’ experiences, all in different ways that blur the line between fantasy and reality. The exhibition observes scenes from reality through a fairytale-like screen.
The title of the exhibition makes use of the term “ivory tower” to further emphasize the fantasy shown in the works included in the collection. To exist in an “ivory tower” means to exist in a state of detachment or separation from the world and its practical realities.
Alaa Khaled, an Alexandrian writer, poet, and novelist, has reviewed the collection and provided descriptions of the artists’ work and style. Of Nazir Tanbouli’s work, Khaled discusses the cartoonish and almost childish composition of the canvas, which instills a strong sense of nostalgia in the observer.
In some of the works that are vibrant and full of action, Khaled remarks that Tanbouli’s art seems to record snippets of reality and scenarios rather than the whole picture, allowing for the observer to be immersed in the flurry of the world of the art. At the same time, some of Tanbouli’s artworks are standalone and appear to carry complete messages.
These examples usually draw from familiar scenes, expressing strong emotional connections that inspire human compassion and vulnerability.
Aliaa el-Gready’s work in this collection is described as being representative of the rich world of the human subconscious. Khaled emphasizes Gready’s use of textiles and different fabrics, as well as sewing materials and techniques, to create multi-media works that tell different stories through the use of the materials themselves. Gready’s works almost seem to illustrate strange maps or manuscripts through the unique stitching technique employed to create them.
Unlike Tanbouli’s work, Gready’s artworks do not feature any recurring heroes or characters, and do not represent snippets of life; rather, each piece seems to bring out a particular symbol that represents a raw human emotion or instinct. She uses the theme of animals and animalistic behavior as a main symbolic tool.
This exhibition is one of countless examples of the surrealism associated with living in Egypt. The concept of an “ivory tower” is often used to describe the experiences of upper class intellectuals and academics that study the world but have no real experience of the realities that surround them.
As seen in “Diary of the Ivory Tower”, the barrier between real and unreal might actually be nonexistent in the social world, and especially in Egypt. Those who are able to see this barrier immediately recognize it for what it is: one of the states of Egyptian existence.