MASRICANI

My installation is a reconciliation and contextualization of the moment I entered this middle
ground. As a teenager, I fell in love with Egypt during a prolonged trip, feeling more at home
there than in Indiana where I was born and raised. The motivation and purpose to return and
assume the identity of my heritage was the lifestyle that sparked an attraction. I had studied
Arabic, cultural events and history of the region post-pharaonic era and was identifying myself
as an Egyptian who happened to live in America, as did my family and community throughout
Egypt and Sayeed. It was upon entering the home of a women soon to be married, hosting a
bridal shower that sparked the most recent identity crisis. Entering off the dusty, narrow streets
with the sunbaked homes towering above me when I entered a commotion of color, sound and
movement. All women, focused on the task of preparing pastries for the wedding. Unlike other
welcomes, I had only received a few greetings and waves before they went back to work. The
excitement of teenage girls took my arms, pulling me in every direction to meet a parent or sister
which seemed to only last a few minutes at a time. I was escorted upstairs by my many new
enthusiastic friends who wanted to sing karaoke, which is apparently common at bridal showers
globally. However, our excitement ended when I was asked to sing along to a song by an artist I
didn’t recognize. It was that moment when a native Sayeede girl and I had the same
understanding of the issue at hand: I was not one of them.

The figures grouped on the floor in a flurry of color and pattern create grounds for intrigue as
the sculpture does not engage with the viewer at all, despite a gestural human form and a felt
presence. There is no access for correlation between them and the viewer as the figures exist for
themselves and what they are concerned with, it is not their job to help the viewer understand the
specifics of what they are doing. They push that feeling of Otherness onto the viewer. The
figures’ delicate and lightweight outer appearance create the feeling of life and presence. Their
physical dimension create tension with the flat upholstery patterns on which they are seated
upon, and the difference within the types of fabrics separate them in context of material and
purpose, yet the commonality between them is the effect of an ornamented and decorative
design. Material and purpose as in what the fabrics composure and design can be recognize by
their associated use; the floor patterns suggesting an upholstered or tiled element contrast to the
garment fabric that composes the figures. Their placement on the floor in an activity or social
gathering further concludes a separation between the standing audience and them. The tension
between the audience and sculpture creates a sense of Otherness on the audience, imposed
by the sculptures.

All of this is backed by the mesh of two drastically different types of fabrics. The utilitarian
roughness of burlap, raised and secured to the wall, painted with house paint, sewn to the soft,
patterned sheet, connects both fabrics to the stitched floor patterns in a slight plane removed
from the wall, creating its own enclosure. This enclosure is separated by aesthetic difference, as
well as a physical partition between the viewer and the figures. The walls leading to the seated
figures are grey and rough in texture with a cement burlap mix painted onto sheets of burlap and
covering many of the walls in the space; exhibiting a difference in personalities of the figures
and walls in the entrance of the space. This roughness through the fabric cement does not only
create an aesthetic atmosphere, but also serves as a body in of itself. Previous works have
utilized the cement/ fabric mixture as a connection for my perception of women and our relation
to stone: strong, stoic, versatile, pinnacle foundations of society, yet taken for granted and
overlooked. Through the work of Masricani a new revelation of meaning in the cement fabric
mixture surfaced in the context of space. Either entrance of the gallery is primed with the cement
painted onto the burlap, alluding to the idea of bringing the exterior of the gallery inwards to
create an extended public space. Exterior figures, similar in composition, perpetuate this type of
public, exterior feel though a sort of camouflage or slight invisibility.
In context of the cultural decorum of the Islamic world, the public space is male dominated,
and women are pressured to accommodate for the men by drawing less attention to themselves;
more specifically their bodies. Lisa Golombek’s The Draped Universe of Islam reflects on the
historic importance and versatility of textiles in the Islamic world.

Another category of costume tied to specific functions consisted of garments that
are to
be worn only out-of-doors… Apart from these functional considerations
were the many facets
 of social behavior in which textiles played an important role.
Textiles could reflect social
values and codes of behavior, but they might
also be actual tools of the social system.”
(Golombek,1)

In southern Egypt, it is not uncommon for a female farmer or merchant to adorn herself with
her gold and silver jewelry as she works, selling her products in the dusty, sun baked settings of
the market place – essentially, to wear her wealth. Whereas the private fabrics of color and
pattern may be covered by a practical outer garment to protect against the elements and the wears
of labor, beneath could be the textile ornaments with a wealth of color. For those who practice
the Islamic code of modesty through Hijab, in the privacy of a home or an appropriate indoor
place the monochromatic or earthy public garment is shed and the private garments are revealed.
A barrier between the public space and the private realm must be enacted for the conditions of
physical modesty. This barrier serves as more than a culturally appropriate practice as it acts as a
barrier between realms of comprehension. Perpetuating a physical partition between ourselves
and the figures, the illusion of peeking into a scene through a screen, suggests a feeling of taboo
or being an outsider — an Other.

A commotion between the people, their task, their garments and the designs of the
interior architecture create a visually confusing and overwhelming scene. These figures, are the
visual conjectures of a Masricani – a hodgepodge of fabric, somewhat crassly thrown together,
yet carefully placed in a kaleidoscopic puzzle of color and pattern over three-dimensional forms.

Bibliography
1. Golombek, Lisa. “The Draped Universe of Islam.”
N.p.: n.p., n.d. 27-28. Print.