Magazine article Artforum International

Asuncion Molinos Gordo

Magazine article Artforum International

Asuncion Molinos Gordo

Article excerpt

Downtown Cairo is filled with decaying century-old early modern buildings, a testament to an era when the city aspired to be the Paris of the tropics, a desire shared by other municipalities from my own home-town, Rio de Janeiro, to Panama City. Abandoned by the city's more affluent inhabitants, Cairo's once impressive belle epoque and Art Deco buildings are today in a state of disintegration--modern ruins in the global periphery. Here, on the third floor of a building on Abdel Khaleq Tharwat Street not far from the now world-famous Tahrir Square, right below one of the city's most important contemporary art spaces, the Contemporary Image Collective, was what seemed to be a satellite of Cairo's Agricultural Museum, itself an institution in shambles. On the metal plaque outside the apartment, one read what was in fact the title of the 2010 installation by Cairo-based Spanish artist Asuncion Molinos Gordo: UNTITLED 3 WAM (WORLD AGRICULTURE MUSEUM). The exhibition was the result of the artist's residency at Townhouse, an independent contemporary arts space nearby.

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Inside, in six rooms, one found a fascinating display of objects in vitrines, pictures, maps, graphs, and texts painted on boards, all addressing issues related to farming and biotechnology, the global food crisis and ecological disaster, and all in a style reminiscent of mid-century pedagogical signage--and in tune with the dilapidated official Agricultural Museum across town. Blending fact and fiction with humor and incisiveness, offering data to question, reveal, and create old and new myths, the satellite museum was meticulously constructed as a sort of cabinet of curiosities by a team of local artisans, craftspeople, calligraphers, carpenters, and electricians directed by Molinos Gordo--and everything was presented with explanatory texts in Arabic and English. …

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