According to Arthropologie, art has neither prerequisites nor boundaries.
An exquisite art gallery located on Marashly Street in Zamalek, Arthropologie reaches out to artists on a different, unusual level. Its founders are all about giving artists (which can be anyone) a platform; they want to go out of buildings, beyond the homogenous artistic community and engage people in artistic creations.
Arthropologie is currently run by Sarah and Lina Abdallah and was founded by both of them together with Dina Hafez and Hazem Al-Zaro.
From an Arthropoligical point of view, a gallery is not a mere space to exhibit art works. “We want to cultivate community work…the input of each individual is an asset,” Lina Abdallah said. “An art piece involving more than one contributor is definitely richer.”
In one of their latest projects, the Arthropologie team invited visitors to produce 1000 origami cranes — Japanese art of folding paper to produce shapes without using cuts or glues. According to the Japanese legend, a wish would then be fulfilled.
Abdallah points out that “any material is an asset while working on art pieces.” For example, she found an authentic, old boat in the garden of a villa and insisted on buying it, seeing in it many possibilities for their atypical line of work.
Abdallah and her artist friend, Amar El-Zaman Abdel Halim, wanted to develop a story around that boat. Every individual experiences fear at some point, yet there comes a moment when a person succeeds in crossing that barrier. Both artists created an installation entitled “The Barrier of Fear,” in which the boat penetrates a wall. On one side of the wall, there are fish above the boat; on the other, only birds. Abdallah said that a fish jumping out of water for the first time is transcending its greatest fear of survival, but when it reaches that point it manages to break into new realms.
Abdallah said she feels at home in the gallery amongst an accessible art that viewers could easily relate to when visiting. You walk into open spaces and find only artistic productions welcoming you in all sorts of formats where you least expect them. The setting pretty much reflects what Arthropologie stands for: Art is not limited to strictly defined spaces; it can be anywhere and everywhere, no boundaries halting its expressions or limiting its creative potential.
“You do not have to be a natural-born or professional artist to produce artistic works,” she said. Everyone can use any available material which Arthropologie repeatedly puts to test. “We would just give people canvas and some colors and let them create, you would be surprised by the outcome,” she added.
Arthropologie derives its name from the science of physical, social and cultural development. Egypt has a wide spectrum of cultural and traditional heritage that varies and shifts from one place to another. Even materials used for the pieces alter from one province to the other. In Kharga Oasis, for instance, artist Mostafa Maaz works with palms, he carves houses into those trees.
Another goal of Arthropologie is to showcase the richness of Egyptian’s artistic traditions. There is a great void of projects and initiatives preserving traditional Egyptian crafts. Abdallah noted that craftsmanship is dying out in the face of mass production, marking a loss of national identity.
The founders also organize workshops to raise awareness about Egypt’s traditional art-making. Maaz in particular has taken Arthropologie’s visitors to a journey into palm carving.
Arthropologie Contemporary Art Gallery
13 Al-Marashly St., (Ground floor)
Tel: 011 647 7662