ArteEast is pleased to kick off 2007 with an exhibition of recent digital media works by Hamdi Attia. The works featured here explore different aspects of the relationship between translation and political, social, and economic power. In video essays dealing with aspects of American culture ranging from movies and personal ads to neo-orientalists and corporations, the artist probes how ideologies, commodities, language, cultural difference, and selves are continually produced through acts of translation. A video work juxtaposing the American pundit Thomas Friedman and the Egyptian television preacher Amr Khaled examines the “performances” of professional translators of cultures, religions, and worldviews. And a digital mapping project further reveals the artist’s proposal that translation is never a benign process whereby a “reality” is successfully communicated to someone else, but rather it always starts with something that has already been created by certain interests. Attia shows us that power lies in the misperception that there is always a “correct” translation. Originally from Egypt, Attia lives and works between Cairo and New York. Accompanying the exhibition are original essays by Waiel Ashry, Abdellah Karroum, and Lucy Lippard.
Hamdi Attia was born in Assiut, Egypt in 1964. He studied at the College of Fine Arts in Cairo, and pursued advanced studies in painting and sculpture at the Egyptian Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. Attia also received an MFA in sculpture from the University of Pennsylvania. He represented Egypt at the Venice Biennial in 1995, taking the top pavilion prize with Akram Al-Magdoub. He was also selected for the Cairo Biennial in 1997, and the Canaries Biennial in 2006. His work has been featured in private and group exhibitions in Cairo, New York, Paris, Rome, Sao Paulo, Detroit, Copenhagen, Zanzibar, and Philadelphia. He has been commissioned for a number of public works in Egypt, Italy, and the U.S. Attia currently lives and works between Cairo and New York.