Scaffolding a Familiar Epoch, 2021
Documentary film, 14:24 Mins HD
During the British occupation of Egypt, in 1889, George Stephenson founded his pharmacy in downtown Cairo—later purchased by Ehsan Samman and inherited by his son, Zoheir. At the March 2021 performative intervention, Scaffolding a Familiar Epoch, visual artist Yasmine Elmeleegy tests the boundaries between architectural restoration, physical repair, and spiritual healing. The long-neglected pharmacy was transformed during the course of three months, with Elmeleegy creating new objects to speak back to the space’s historical legacy —chandeliers, Stephenson-inspired vases, infographics—while revitalizing old clocks, medicinal containers, and the pharmacy’s façade. The simultaneous renovation and introduction of novel, physical reminders of the past positions Stephenson’s pharmacy between a still-functioning medical space and historical museum. Through an intervention that also included interviews, Elemeleegy meshes the memory of her own and Samman family with the collective memory of downtown Cairo and colonial Egypt.