White Paper: The Land

Adelita Husni-Bey

This coming Sunday, Adelita Husni-Bey will give us a special insight into her exhibition 'White Paper: The Land'. In between a guided tour and a discussion, it will be an opportunity to share thoughts behind the scenes and questions in and around the works featured in the exhibition.

Adelita Husni-Bey is an artist and researcher. Her work centers around autonomy, Micro-utopias, pirate-utopias, the 'Land Issue', collective memory, (the production of) dissent and control, anarchist pedagogy and free-schools. The encounter with the artist will particularly focus on ‘White Paper' a long-term research and exhibition project that evolves as a series of newly commissioned films, installations and discursive frameworks. Its three chapters, taking place in three different cities during 2014–2015, explore the asymmetry of legal and ontological tensions that inevitably arise when profit-driven processes of urban rezoning come into conflict with existing communities over housing rights, questions of ownership, and notions of the commons.

'White Paper: The Land' (2014) is a video-installation reflecting on 'Cairo 2050', a government-backed and privately funded metropolitan development plan of epic proportions, which threatens the livelihood of many informal settlements such as the neighborhoods of Gezirat al-Qursaya and Ramlet Boulaq. The video was realized in collaboration with film-maker Salma El Tarzi and activist Nazly Hussein and features a workshop with members of both areas, who engage in debates that challenge the virtue of language as prime ground to assess the threats neoliberal urban planning policies pose to social and legal justice in Egypt.

The role of language in shaping and producing narratives of contemporary reality through journalism or other forms of cultural production is the main thread of the second piece on view: '(On) Difficult Terms' (2013). The installation is based on a meeting Husni-Bey held in October 2013 with journalists of Mada Masr, a platform for independent and progressive journalism in Egypt. '(On) Difficult Terms, tISP' (2014) revisits its layered meaning in Arabic a year later with participants of Beirut’s the Imaginary School Program.

Acting as a footnote, or a hint to a moment in time, is 'Time Under Siege' (2013), a small collection of video segments the artist gathered through an open call to recognize the expedients, detours, coping-mechanisms, moments of boredom and communion Cairo inhabitants have found to deal with State-imposed curfew.