Helena Anrather is proud to present I want you to know that I am hiding something from you, a solo exhibition by Mahmoud Khaled exploring the often uneasy overlap of public and private life, an intersection established through continuous negotiations of power, desire, and memory. Khaled hails from Alexandria, Egypt, and this is the first time his work is being shown in the United States.
Taking its title from a passage in Roland Barthe’s ‘A Lover’s Discourse,’ the exhibition offers a similar assemblage of fragments to suggest an inevitably incomplete point of view, probing the boundaries between what is visible and what is hidden, what is real and what is staged. The works in the exhibition span the last decade of the artist’s practice, often using familiar objects to evoke the fragility of memory and the gap between desire and reality. In “Do You Have Work Tomorrow” (created in 2012 and exhibited in the 2016 Electronic Superhighway exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery) thirty-two screenshots of a furtive Grindr conversation between two men in Cairo capture the nature of desire—ephemeral yet perennial, both cautious and reckless—as it manifests against a backdrop of a turbulent and perpetually shifting city. As the conversation unfolds, it reveals a suggestive inversion of state surveillance, where the act of looking at and tracking others in public space becomes about the possibility of consummating desire (exercising freedoms) rather than the assertion of control.
Khaled’s multidisciplinary practice, mixing photography and video with sculptural forms and architectural interventions, investigates how architecture and public space shapes the imagination and frames collective ideas of history and political narratives. His work has been indelibly shaped by the tumultuous social and political dynamics of Egyptian society as well as a conviction that the specificity of his experience has universal implications that can, indeed must, speak to other people in other contexts, subtending apparent otherness. For example, in this exhibition Khaled materializes a public bench in the space of the gallery, offering a vantage point to contemplate a series of photographs of public spaces in Cairo from 2008, looking at the past through the emotional and political filter of the last decade. He tailors the architecture of the gallery itself to underscore this mediation, rendering it the last element in a series of temporal, architectural, and geographic dislocations. Taken together, his work serves as formal and philosophical ruminations on art and architecture as forms of political activism, presenting objects of desire and spaces for critical reflection.
Mahmoud Khaled (b. 1982 Alexandria, Egypt) studied fine art at Alexandria University in Egypt and Trondheim University in Norway. His solo shows include A New Commission for an Old State at Gypsum Gallery (2018) and Edith-Ruth-Haus, Oldenburg (2016); Proposal for a Porn Company, Galpão VB | Associação Cultural Videobrasil, São Paulo (2016); Painter on a Study Trip, Gypsum Gallery, Cairo (2016); It’s Never Too Late to Talk About Love, Nile Sunset Annex, Cairo (2014); When Meanings Face Glossy Surfaces, Contemporary Image Collective, Cairo (2010) and I Never Wanted to Be Alone in a Room, BALTIC Center for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (2010). His group exhibitions include 15th Istanbul Biennale, curated by Elmgreen & Dragset (2017); 13th Sharjah Biennale, curated by Christine Tohmé (2017); Terra Mediterranea - in Action, curated by Yiannis Toumazis, NiMAC Arts Center, Nicosia (2017); Electronic Superhighway, curated by Omar Kholeif, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2016);Complicity, curated by Aleya Hamza, Sultan Gallery, Kuwait (2016); Lofoten International Art Festival, curated by Bassam El Baroni, Lofoten (2013). In 2012 Khaled was awarded the Videobrasil In Context prize, in 2016 he was shortlisted for the 2016 Abraaj Art Prize. Khaled lives and works between Oslo and Cairo.