Becoming Fathi Mahmoud, 2019 - Ongoing
Multimedia installation, Drawings, Prints and Porcelain sculptures.
In 1942, Fathi Mahmoud opened the first ceramic factory in Egypt in Shubra, Cairo. A prominent sculptor during the Nasserist era, Fathi Mahmoud remains an obscure figure in the history of Egyptian artists. His public artworks can be found throughout Egypt, including the “Talaat Harb” statue in Cairo, the “Bride of the Sea” in Alexandria, and the “Monument to the Martyrs” in Cairo University. In addition, he created historic reliefs that decorate some of Egypt’s most important public spaces. Porcelain sets from the Fathi Mahmoud porcelain company are found in households all over Egypt until today.
In this project, entitled “Becoming Fathi Mahmoud,” I excavate Fathi Mahmoud’s personal narrative, monumental artistic works, and industrial footprint, as a way to explore the space between an object and its history. Through assessing the relationship between the industrial history of Egypt and the process of artistic production, I trace the history of political and economic changes in this pivotal and historically ambiguous era of Egypt’s industrial awakening.
The project seeks to tell the multifaceted history of Fathi Mahmoud’s legacy - from the industrialization of porcelain production, to the widespread presence of his products in Egyptian households, to his personal artistic trajectory and murky relationship with the Egyptian government and the story of the political and economic shifts in Nasser’s Egypt by tracing the history of a household object, and the story of Fathi Mahmoud, the man behind this object’s vision.