Manar Moursi: The Loudspeaker and the Tower

Manar Moursi, video still from The Parrot, 2019. Image courtesy of the artist, Trinity Square Video, and SAVAC.

Manar Moursi: The Loudspeaker and the Tower

May 28 – July 31, 2022
Opening reception: May 28, 12-2 PM

Curated by Toleen Touq and Emily Fitzpatrick

Artspace Peterborough is excited to present Manar Moursi: The Loudspeaker and the Tower, co-presented in partnership with Trinity Square Video and SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre).

Through an immersive environment constructed of coloured lights, megaphones, masks, videos and sculptures, Toronto- and Boston-based artist, designer, and architect Manar Moursi presents a multitude of considerations to the viewer: What if singular patriarchal voices of religious sermons were interpreted through mime and dance? How would neon lights adorning mosque minarets look as sculptural objects? How do residents of Cairo challenge authoritative architectures and urban master plans, whilst creating new meanings for public space and land use? By that token, what shapes can we abstract from these biographical networks of the megalopolis?

Using the mosque as its starting point, The Loudspeaker and the Tower examines the apparatus of the minaret as a vertical symbol of power and as a horizontal multiplier of official and unsanctioned narratives. Moursi’s installation revolves around a set of associated characters — residents of once agricultural lands, mosque custodians, imams, architects, artists, and a parrot — to further understand the radical complexities of these structures. The exhibition acknowledges the hybridized function of these contemporary, religious houses, which operate as hacks into the civic infrastructure to secure amenities, community, and sustainability. In staging these elements, the exhibition highlights the material and political significance of new mosque architecture in Egypt today, looking into processes of building and negotiating both the structures themselves and what transpires inside them.

Moursi’s practice focuses on unpredictable configurations and improvised interventions in cities that often lie within broader networks of unauthorized systems. Aptly, these built examples possess a duality in both form and purpose, revealing and answering to the localized tensions related to property, class, gender and voice. The Loudspeaker and the Tower dissects multifarious experiences associated with minarets and mosques to present viewers with a complex yet playful attempt at listening, looking, and gathering. Cairo is the story, and the minaret becomes a character in an installation that functions as a call to action, inviting viewers to reconsider the dynamics of power within the city.

This exhibition is circulated with support from Ontario Arts Council and Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival 2019.

Artist bio:
Manar Moursi is a Kuwait-born Egyptian researcher, architect, and artist, currently based between Montreal and Cambridge. Her work considers how power is articulated in small day-to-day gestures in the built environment or in personal relationships. She is often guided in her making with sensitivity and curiosity to sensory experiences. Accordingly, she works with multiple media: artist books, installation, video installation, and sculpture. Lately, Manar works with the personal as political and uses her own body and personal history in performance and video works. Playfulness with language and text is also a running thread in her work. Manar is currently working on a Ph.D. in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture program at MIT while maintaining her artistic practice.

About Trinity Square Video
Trinity Square Video is a space to re-imagine media arts. Founded in 1971, it is one of Canada’s first artist-run centres and its oldest media arts centre. Trinity Square strives to create supportive environments, encouraging artistic and curatorial experimentation that challenge medium specificity through education, production and presentation supports.

SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre) is a non-profit, nomadic artist-run organization based out of Toronto dedicated to developing and promoting the works of artists and cultural practitioners of colour located across both Turtle Island and the Global South.

For over 20 years, SAVAC has operated without a gallery space as an explicit, political choice. Instead, we push for frameworks of self-representation within the Canadian arts ecology and partner with galleries, institutions and museums to integrate artists and curators of colour into the curatorial and programming practices of those institutions.

About Artspace
Artspace is a non-profit, artist-run centre that has assisted artists with the presentation of new work for over 40 years. Artspace engages and informs the public about contemporary approaches to art, advocates for artists and nurtures dialogue across disciplines, cultures and perspectives.

Gallery 1 is the main exhibition space and is immediately accessible through the front door which has a ramp. On the same level as Gallery 1 are the centre’s administrative offices, resource library, and a physically accessible washroom. Beyond these spaces is a secondary entrance (not physically accessible), a small kitchenette, washroom (not physically accessible), and the centre’s Maker Space. A short flight of stairs leads to Gallery 2 (500 sq. ft.), a black-box style gallery.

If you have any questions please contact:

Lucas Cabral
Artistic Director/Curator
Artspace Peterborough

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3-378 Aylmer Street N.
Peterborough, Ontario
K9H 3V9