The Loudspeaker and the Tower
Trinity Square Video 401 Richmond St. W. Toronto, ON
In partnership with Trinity Square Video and CONTACT Photography Festival, we are pleased to present The Loudspeaker and the Tower featuring works by artist Manar Moursi. Through an immersive environment constructed of coloured lights, megaphones, masks, videos and sculptures, Toronto- and Boston-based artist, designer, and architect Manar Moursi presents a multitude of considerations to the viewer: What if singular patriarchal voices of religious sermons were interpreted through mime and dance? How would neon lights adorning mosque minarets look as sculptural objects? How do residents of Cairo challenge authoritative architectures and urban master plans, whilst creating new meanings for public space and land use? By that token, what shapes can we abstract from these biographical networks of the megalopolis?
Using the mosque as its starting point, The Loudspeaker and the Tower examines the apparatus of the minaret as a vertical symbol of power and as a horizontal multiplier of official and unsanctioned narratives. Moursi’s installation revolves around a set of associated characters — residents of once agricultural lands, mosque custodians, imams, architects, artists, and a parrot — to further understand the radical complexities of these structures. The exhibition acknowledges the hybridized function of these contemporary, religious houses, which operate as hacks into the civic infrastructure to secure amenities, community, and sustainability. In staging these elements, the exhibition highlights the material and political significance of new mosque architecture in Egypt today, looking into processes of building and negotiating both the structures themselves and what transpires inside them.
Moursi’s practice focuses on unpredictable configurations and improvised interventions in cities that often lie within broader networks of unauthorized systems. Aptly, these built examples possess a duality in both form and purpose, revealing and answering to the localized tensions related to property, class, gender and voice. The Loudspeaker and the Tower dissects multifarious experiences associated with minarets and mosques to present viewers with a complex yet playful attempt at listening, looking, and gathering. Cairo is the story, and the minaret becomes a character in an installation that functions as a call to action, inviting viewers to reconsider the dynamics of power within the city.
Manar Moursi is multi-disciplinary artist. Informed by her architectural and design background, her work tackles social and political themes through the lens of everyday spatial and material culture. Her book Sidewalk Salon: 1001 Street Chairs of Cairo co-authored with David Puig was published by Onomatopee in 2015. She has presented work in venues across the Middle East and Europe. In addition to her art practice, Manar teaches architecture and publishes regularly on urban and architectural issues. In 2016, she participated in curating and writing for Egypt’s participation at the Venice Architectural Biennale.
Trinity Square Video (TSV) is a space to re-imagine media arts. Founded in 1971, the not-for-profit, charitable organization is one of Canada’s first artist-run centres and its oldest media arts centre.
The Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival is the largest annual photography event in the world, and a premiere cultural experience in Canada, with over 200 exhibitions and happenings from May 1-31 in the Greater Toronto Area. Founded in 1997, CONTACT is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to celebrating and fostering photography and related media with an annual Festival in May and year-round programming in the CONTACT Gallery.