Judith Barry’s Cairo Stories Opens in New York

Judith Barry, Cairo Stories.
ACT at MIT

Update:
On Tuesday, October 16, Judith Barry will be part of a panel at the Kevorkian Center in New York, where she and other speakers will explore the ideological, cultural, and economic issues facing women in Egypt today.

Judith Barry‘s Cairo Stories, an exhibition curated by Piper Marshall, will open on September 6, 2018 at Mary Boone Gallery in New York, and run through October 27.

The installation consists of 11 diptychs (photograph and accompanying text) and four plasma screen videos, culled from more than 215 interviews Barry conducted with women of varying social and economic classes in Cairo between 2003 and 2011. The project was initiated at the beginning of the Iraq War and it concluded just after the Arab Spring.

Cairo Stories chronicles the personal experiences of Cairene women, expanding the Barry’s engagement with notions of representation, history, subjectivity, and translation, through her research-based practice. These stories were chosen as representative of the specific cultural milieu of Cairo, differentiating Egypt from other countries in the Middle East.

In creating Cairo Stories, Barry worked collaboratively with her subjects, recorded their stories, and translated their words to preserve their cadence, fluidity, and tone. A group of Cairene colleagues then vetted these chronicles, actively considering the social and political contexts of the accounts. While the interviewees wanted their stories told, they did not want to be photographed or filmed; actors were hired to portray these women and thus protect their identities.

Encountering the stories, the viewer learns how each subject negotiates the structures of the nation state: social systems, economic responsibility, and familial ties in a changing urban landscape. Barry’s project addresses the importance of speaking one’s story. This issue is a central concern not limited to everyday Cairene life. Reflecting on these stories recently with some of the women she interviewed, Barry was struck by how little the emotional tenor of their lives has changed, even as the promise of “the revolution” has faded into what is an increasingly repressive state.

Cairo Stories premiered at the 2011 Sharjah Biennial in six sites around the city.

Please visit Mary Boone Gallery’s website for more information.