Living close by the oldest slaughterhouse in Egypt, I had been visually occupied by images of the herds of animals driven to their destiny and the few of them that tried to escape it. Cairo’s oldest slaughterhouse located in the ancient neighborhood of Masr el Adeema was where I spent five years of my childhood. Not being able to see the actual place of slaughtering, I was occupied by the images of the aftermath, in which the butchers split the body pieces, break down animal skulls and separate the skin from the flesh.
In 2014 I began serving in the army and was sent to the alienated eastern part of the Suez Canal in the Sinai desert. Aside from my fellow soldiers, I almost never encountered living human beings, only the visual of dried up animal skulls. My work over the past two years has been evolving around the visuals that haunted me as a kid and became part of my daily landscape as a soldier in the Egyptian army. In this line of work I am depicting images from my both childhood and the army, where I served the past year or so. I have then researched the techniques of breaking down animal skulls and was caught up with the fact that as a human being you could be decapitated and deprived of your voice, being and life much like the animals at the slaughterhouse.
In my project I targeted the neighborhood of ‘Ard Yaakoub, the slaughterhouse,’ where the business of animal slaughtering is their main source of income. At the beginning I carried on an investigative research to choose a wall that would be visible to most passersby and I was planning to use bones that come out of their businesses as drawing tools to create a painted mural. However, at a second stage I decided to make my work as a tridimensional object so as to draw more effectively the attention of the neighborhood, in an attempt to shock the very people who are used to the image of blood and bones so much that they forget to stand and observe the visual and connect it to their own lives as Egyptians.
(Captions): The slaughterhouse, leather, bones, wood, iron bars and wires, 160cm ⌀, 250cm height, 2016
Mustafa el Husseiny, a Cairo-based visual artist, graduated from the Faculty of Art Education, Helwan University in 2014. He participated in a number of workshops and exhibitions in Cairo as part of the ‘Street Atelier.’ He co-founded the street art group ‘Monaliza Brigades’ in 2012, under which he participated in a number of developmental projects such as ‘The People of Ard ElLewa’ funded by the British Council in Egypt. Mustafa conducted his own fabric printing workshops for children. Most of his ideas evolve around animal and human anatomies. He combines the anatomic visuals with hypothetical maps that track his life journey as well as his late fathers’.