Site-specific ephemeral brick and cement construction and sound installation.
11th Cairo Biennale. Palace of Arts, Opera House grounds. December 2008 - February 2009.
For this artwork, Lara Baladi received the Cairo Biennale's Nile Grand Award.
Borg El Amal was inspired by the buildings commonly found in the informal housing quarters around and inside Cairo. The "ashwa'iyat" (informal housing) make up more than 40 percent of the city of Cairo. Many of them are windowless tower constructions, often aligned in endless rows, without any public services.
The nine-meter high brick and concrete tower was built with a mix of locally made bricks and others specially made for the project. They were embossed with an image of a donkey and a peasant, the word "HOPE" inscribed in the donkey's body, in English and/or Arabic.
Inside of Baladi's Tower of Hope, disrupted staircases of concrete were leading to an open sky ceiling. Along the walls, there was a cement bench, where the visitors could rest while listening to a Donkey Symphony.
This sound piece, based on an idea inspired by Henryk Gorecki's symphony #3, op36, 1976, and directed by Lara Baladi was composed by Nathaniel Robin Mann, and Angel Lopez de la Llave. The soprano voice, flute, reed & wind instruments, violin, cello & viola da gamba mixed with the braying of donkeys echoed the voice of the city, the cry of the Red City.
>> Sound samples
For the significance of the artwork for Lara Baladi, the people involved, and for the Cairo art scene, see the >> Interview