The Egyptian Pharmacy Museum,2019- Ongoing
Glass, Epoxy, Marble, Stainless.
The Egyptian Pharmacy Museum is a reflection of the narratives of power that are invested in pharmaceutical artifacts. Over the course of the project, ElMeleegy traces the trajectory of those narratives surrounding the history of medicine in an age of globalization and museology.
The 2014 work entitled “The Fever Series” explored the precariousness of sick bodies in the Abbasiya hospital through a multimedia installation consisting of glass pharmaceutical objects. Continuing research into the space between objects and their history, Elmeleegy sought to delve further into the history of pharmaceutical objects with “The Egyptian Pharmacy Museum.”
What results is an investigation of historical motifs and motives, wherein museology and medical anthropology are invoked as powerful tools to approach history. The project seeks to reconcile early forms of looting and dispossession, and official, accepted narrative forms that are found in science museums and pharmacy museums.
The first iteration of “The Egyptian Pharmacy Museum” was exhibited in the Reimagined Narratives Visual Art Festival in Cairo, Egypt organized by Art D’Egypte in October of 2019. The work integrates links between the Islamic Ophthalmology history of Egypt and Western pharmaceutical artifacts, through observing the current anatomy of Qalawun Eye hospital as well as the history of scientific studies that have been used for the development of medicine and pharmaceutical objects industry.
In the second iteration of the project (in progress), Elmeleegy will construct a fictional pharmaceutical museum in collaboration with Stephenson pharmacy, one of the oldest pharmacies in downtown Cairo established in 1899. Through a museolgoical intervention that will take place in the pharmacy, Elmeleegy will tell a story of the political and economic shifts in the medicine industry in Egypt by tracing the history of the pharmaceutical artifacts that still exist in the pharmacy’s inventory.
*The research started and was partially developed during a residency at Atelier Mondial Basel, Prohelvetia Cairo in 2018. Produced with support from MARMONIL.