Cairo, in Arabic Al-Qahirah (The Victorious), also deemed 'Umm el Dunya' (Mother of the World) derives its fame from a history long past and gone. Previously the cradle of an ancient civilization and a main player within Arab politics and intellectual life, contemporary Cairo is a sprawling metropolis bursting at its seams, a Capital of Kitsch, where everything is expandable, ephemeral and replaceable.
Amsterdam-Noord is in many ways the total opposite of Cairo (in climate, scale, geography and demographics). While a contemporary Cairo struggles to shake off its static image of pyramids and mummies, Amsterdam Noord’s (touristic) image is still very much in the making.
The movement is thus from Cairo, the self-professed Oumm el-Dunya (Mother of the World) to Amsterdam-Noord, Bint el Dunya (Daughter of the World), wherein the daughter is fresh, young, green and new. Though radically different, both mother and daughter are going through similar urban processes of gentrification, urban development and decentralisation.
The idea behind the project is simple, yet effective: Making Amsterdam Noord a prime holiday destination for Cairene visitors, precisely because it offers nothing that Cairo does, and offers everything Cairo does not. Not only does this articulate a brand identity for Amsterdam Noord, off the beaten track, it also indirectly articulates a different rapport to Cairo, as physical place and as imaginary locus.
Bint el Dunya is a collaboration with Nat Muller, independent curator specialised in contemporary art in and from the Middle-East. In 2008 she has been working as the first curator-in-residence at the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo.
The project Bint el Dunya comprises an exhibition on location in Amsterdam-Noord late summer 2010. It will be accompanied by an Arabic travel guide about Amsterdam-Noord, with practical information and artistic interventions by the Egyptian artists. The guide will be published in two editions: Arabic/English and Arabic/Dutch.