Cairo Modern, curated by Mohamed Elshahed, Independent Curator, features 20 demolished, extant, and proposed projects from Cairo dating from the 1930s to the 1970s.
Though known primarily for its ancient Egyptian monuments and its thousands of minarets, Cairo is also a city of eclectic Modern constructions, concrete expressionism, and turn-of-the-century revivalism, structures that reflected the material realities and aspirations of the bourgeoisie that formed after Egypt’s 1919 Revolution, who embraced the Modernist home as the materialization of new notions of class, identity, and modernity. Cairo Modern seeks to shine a light on this oftentimes forgotten chapter of Modernist production in Egypt by presenting a variety of projects, ranging in function from residential to administrative.
By highlighting these under-recognized works, Cairo Modern also serves as a call to action, prompting audience members to rethink the significance of global Modernism in architectural history. Today, Modern heritage has been facing the wrecking ball around the world. Buildings carrying layers of social and material history have disappeared, creating serious gaps in local architectural narratives and in our understanding of global Modernism. In many cases, the images of demolished buildings used in this exhibition are the only surviving evidence that such structures existed at all.
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