Escaton (2009-2013)


Paper: Hahnemuhle Photorag Bright White 310 grams

These images scrutinize the freedom water brings to the behaviour and clothes of seaside bathers in contemporary Egypt. During the painterly layering process that the photographic images undergo, figures are rearranged into humorous filmic narratives that look both mystical and propagandist. Sexual politics play out in encounters that are erotic, sinister or absurd. The characters have a lack of self-consciousness, and gestures are astonishingly flamboyant or awkward.

Re-enacting standard beach behaviour in conservative dress, the bathers represent the experience of living between multiple cultural systems. Both the artist’s manipulative process and her subjects’ familiar movements are informed by the culture of advertising and film. The men’s postures somehow echo those of women in Hollywood movies of the 1940s and 50s. They are eager to please, and feminised by the relative exposure of their flesh next to solidly covered women.

Through the selection of the poses and the ageing of the surface through post-processing, the photographed figures have been recreated to serve nostalgia. In some images, this dreaminess is punctured by a particular pair of polarised sunglasses, or a sudden up-to-date vulgarity – we are being calculatedly charmed but not allowed to forget the original, not-so-distant encounter on the beach. Re-arrangements against different Middle Eastern stock backdrops insist upon the synthetic nature of the product.

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