13th Cairo Biennale, Egypt

'Eyes East Bound', curated by Ehab El Laban, including work by Ajarb Bernard Ategwa. Runs through to 10 August 2019.

Eyes from every corner of the globe are currently directing their scrutinizing regards towards the East; an East with an ancient and deeply rooted cultural overload, in the core of which is our Middle East, that part of the planet that is immersed in –rather “overwhelmed by– an infinite number of social, political and economic issues, all aggravating and disseminating intricately to entangle –and concern– the whole world.


One is sometimes obliged to think and hypothesize that it is perhaps some stakeholders in the power game from “that” world that are actual players in the development of Middle East events, as we see them climaxing more and more every day, sometimes backfiring in the face of stakeholders and observers alike, and at other times offering more open and promising horizons.


Our East –if one is able to summarize it in concept into one word– on the other hand, has an eye on the future, somehow without losing sight of a cumulative and wealthy cultural heritage; one that has developed with layers of palimpsest and of a detritus of knowledge over centuries that has impacted and influenced most modern world cultures. Such a present heritage still inspires and directs attitudes, traditions, conventions, and continuously forms the cultural specificity of many Eastern communities.


The 13th Cairo Biennale, in a quest for an authentic dialogue alternative to what is proposed in cliché channels today, and while not attempting to dictate, guide or direct creators towards particular approaches, extends its invitation to artists to set their compasses to the East, their eyes to an alternative Orient, examine with us the four pillars that are our perceived real, and probe with us all possible horizons in every possible medium of expression.


Words by Cairo Biennale

July 10, 2019