press release

In her works, Egyptian/Lebanese artist Lara Baladi combines documentary photography from the Arab world, Europe, West Africa and Japan with staged photographs of characters dressed in various costumes, together serving as a system of cross-references encompassing Egyptian culture, universal mythologies, fairy tales and Barbie-kitsch, TV series and Japanese manga animations.

Her inspiration stems from a rich variety of sources, among these the Islamic visual heritage, Pharaonic archetypes, Barbie-kitsch and contemporary pop culture. Baladi takes a keen interest in the narrative potential of existence, its enigmatic beauty and lack of logic. Her works addresses the very issue of identity in an ever-changing world of borders and cultures, whether they are personal, social or religious.

Some basic technological conditions have influenced how Baladi produces her works. In a country in which large-scale copying of photos is not possible, she has instead made her photos in a 10 x 15 cm format. Put together, these numerous small photographs add up to enormous collages, creating each their own narrative as well as mutual ones.

The exhibition has been titled Kai'ro from the two Japanese signs signifying road, detour, circle. The artist's home town of Cairo also provides the starting point for many of her works.

This presentation includes photographic works and installations from the artist's earlier production as well as newly produced works to be shown for the first time here. Lara Baladi was born in Beirut in 1969 and was educated in London and Paris. She now lives in Cairo.

Kai'ro has been produced by the BildMuseet, Umeī University, and is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue. Kai'ro has formerly been shown at the BildMuseet, Umeå University, Sweden; Pori Art Museum, Finland; and will subsequently be shown at the Länsmuseet Västernorrland, Härnösand, Sweden.


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Lara Baladi