Art Gallery Visit – Art Exchange and Contemporary Nottingham. Humeau/Otobong/Walls of freedom;street art of Egypt

Marguerite Humeau

I liked the entrance to this exhibition – walking through an almost black corridor with strange sounds that I read are a sound piece from imagined proto language when a single chance mutation allowed our ancestors to produce articulate language.

Then you emerge into a bright room with large parts of polystyrene elephants, some with bubbling boiling flasks attached. This is the artist’s imagining [with the help of experts] of the evolution of elephants if they had become sentient beings able to use language.

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I felt it was interesting and well thought out. The pink carpets are dyed with pigments created from the chemicals of the human body. Not sure what this meant? Is it because we would be the lower species and therefore used as we do with animals now?

The elephants are all different in their emotional states, one is getting drunk, one is engineered to be happy. The centrepiece is a matriarch that is engineered to die.

As a visual spectacle, it looked amazing. A lot of people who came in the room looked amazed but then walked out quickly! I think it’s one of those shows where you really have to read the thought behind it, and mull it over. Picking elephants as the sentient species over say, chimps is an interesting thought.

Otobong Nkanga

This artist looks at uses for stones. Images are printed on the stones, and what I liked about this is that you to look at these, you have to crunch along on smaller stones which made me feel I’m part of it.

I guess a bit of me was disappointed the images were printed on the stones, as I’m so biased towards painting! It did look interesting though and it made me wonder about using stone to make my own paint again.

Walls of freedom; street art of the Egyptian revolution

I loved this show, it explained the use of graffiti during the Egypt revolution in 2011.

I read of the atrocities of a Military sniper who tried to blind people and this artist had both eyes blinded. People killed in the revolution were painted onto walls with their stories and wings.

A continuous loop film showed this film as it went through changes by artists and government. First tanks and a boy with bread representing the innocent people. Then this was changed to the tank running over people and blood everywhere. Then, the government painted over that with flags. And then its back to the military commander as a murdering madman. It was an amazing thing to see this struggle played out on the wall.

It made me think about what these people had been through and how street art must have been so important for messages and morale, and a memorial to those lost.

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The Military regime blocked the square off and artists painted the view as it would be without the blockade – sorry the photo is blurred.

I must say I found this exhibition very powerful and moving. I had seen the scenes on TV, but theres something about seeing this that really bought home to me what this country went through.

There was also street art from Iran, here is a man holding a sign saying only foreign currency being accepted – from a time when their own currency was so devalued due to sanctions from foreign governments [now being lifted due to the reduction of uranium enrichment programs] and a few days later the government has removed the message on the graffiti.

Here’s a comment on foreign military being used as puppets – possibly a comment on foreign presence in Afghanistan.

I’ve started to look at graffiti around Nottingham but so far have not seen anything memorable. I’ve tried to look up a few ‘Bankys’ when I was in Bristol but either missed them or they’d been taken down. I would like to look at his work in more depth.

While all the exhibitions were interesting, I have to say the street art was educational and the most moving to me. I have ordered the book ‘Egyptian street art of the revolution’ by Basma Hamdy as I would like to read more. It also gives me an idea for looking at the graffiti in my local environment, maybe an idea for the final assignment!

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