From A World to Win News Service:
A Cairo art gallery recently held a show of work by Egyptian artist Mona Marzouk called Trayvon, named after the African-American high school student Trayvon Martin murdered in Florida (U.S.) in 2012. In a newspaper interview, she says she obsessively followed the case and trial of the vigilante George Zimmerman, who stalked and shot the 17-year-old. "The first thing Zimmerman said to police," Marzouk says, "was 'he's Black.'... I thought it was important to express what happened to this young man for no reason."
Marzouk explains that the surreal trial, in which facts were uncontested and yet the only result was to ratify the "right" to kill Black youth in America, reminded her of the way that Egyptian courts similarly turn right and wrong upside down. All over the world, she says, "people are looking for justice and they [are] in jail." She might have been thinking of the last months in her own country, where the American-favoured former president, general Hosni Mubarak, was acquitted of murder, even though he ordered the killing of many hundreds of demonstrators, while youth prominent in the movement that led to his overthrow were sentenced to prison for holding public protests against his successors.
The work in this show, however, is not about any particular case or indeed any particular injustice. A bright yellow wall swarms with black, sharply outlined silhouettes that recall real objects, but rather than representational, they are suggestive, working on many layers of reference and emotion at once. Helicopters, a recurring theme and a symbol of ubiquitous state violence throughout the world, bring to mind birds of prey or malefic insects. Guillotines, electric chairs and nooses combine with grand pianos and clawed creatures. Versions of the American flag replace the stars with terrifying but indeterminate beasts and objects that suggest empires and executions throughout the ages. Grim castles meld minarets and cathedrals, hinting at Pharaohs, Romans, Ottoman and European potentates. A turreted tower gulps down the setting sun as if it were an egg yolk. These architectural structures, like her innumerable helmets, project political dominance and male authority – and hurt. In "Curse Carriers", a giant shark-jawed monster with an airplane body on a tripod confronts a crab-like creature that could be a tank with minarets. The images are razor-edged, frightening and painful to the viewer's very soul.
Born in 1968, Marzouk lives and works in Alexandria, Egypt. She is a painter, muralist and sculptor. Her work has appeared in international biennials, and in solo shows in London and New York.