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Cut and Paste, a painful trip down memory lane

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Huda Lutfi explores fleeting memories of past events in Cut and Paste

The installation Cactus Walk emphasises that the powers that be only offer one choice (Photo by Thoraia Abou Bak)

The installation Cactus Walk emphasises that the powers that be only offer one choice
(Photo by Thoraia Abou Bak)

In instances of terrible pressure and great emotion it is often hard to register an event as it is. Memories get jumbled with thoughts and feelings and accurate recall becomes a difficult task. The result of such an attempt leads to a combination of snippets that seem more symbolic than factual in nature. They no longer tell a sequence of occurrences, but rather a smudged impression of a familiar incident. In Huda Lutfi’s exhibition Cut and Paste, this idea is amplified and taken to the extreme.

The exhibition portrays the impressions gathered during the past three years, since the 25 January revolution. Walking through the installations feels like walking down a memory lane of the many political and social happenings that occurred during that time. The installation Cactus Walk portrays plastic feet painted in military camouflage, moving towards a broken wooden ladder. The Arabic name is Masar Egbari , or obligatory path. The piece captures an idea that seemed to have repeated itself during the previous period in the political scene. The public is given only one choice by whichever authoritative entity in power, and is told that this is “obligatory” in order for progress to occur.

Another expressive piece is the Badrashayn Train painting, which is based on the train accident that involved military conscripts and happened in January 2013. The conscripts’ train cart was separated from the rest of the train and completely destroyed, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries. The painting depicts a conscript holding a stack of baladi bread with angel wings sprouting from his back. This image is repeated all over the canvas against the background of a blue sky with a bunch of clouds. When viewing the painting, one is conflicted between the feelings of resentment which are generated by the conscript’s uniform and the sadness for all the lives lost. One is reminded that the oppression that the public faces is also faced by those protecting the system.

According to The Townhouse Gallery’s website “The exhibition’s title refers to the material process of making collages, as well as the archival process of collecting information from the internet. But it also refers to a certain frenetic process of history-making, in which the same events seem to repeat themselves over and over again. The works in Cut and Paste are highly repetitious in nature, whether because they are produced in serials, or compositionally rely on the repetition of the same phrase, text or image. They are infused with that strange phenomenon of déjà vu—an in-between, indeterminate experience that seems so familiar and banal, but that has particular significance in this political context.”

The installations are not coherent, so by no means should one expect a tale from each piece, however if you are up for a recollection of events past, then it is definitely worth a visit. The exhibition continues till 8 January 2014 at The Factory showroom at The Townhouse Gallery from Saturday to Wednesday, from 12 pm till 9pm.


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