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Guiding Light: Egypt’s Top Creative Artists Embrace Spirituality in Their Work

April 14, 2022
Courtesy of Radical Contemporary
Enlighten’s “Spirituality: Perspectives & Perceptions” event. Courtesy of Little Circus

Spirituality is a house with many rooms; each with its very own story, mood, and environment. Whether one is a follower of Christianity, Islam, Judaism or any religion in the world, the house symbolizes a quest to understand not only God, but the inner battle between love and hate, good and evil, greed and charity.

Along with grappling with one’s own inner spiritual journey, developing awareness of others’ unique spirituality opens up a deeper appreciation for the rich array of spiritual meanings within  other people and cultures. Art can serve as a medium for the expression of these emotions and concepts, and sharing each person’s own spiritual journey not through strict definitions that can carry multiple interpretations, but through visuals and stories that carry a universal meaning.

Hosting Egypt’s biggest multisensory experience that explores spirituality in all of its forms, this concept was reflected at Enlighten’s “Spirituality: Perspectives & Perceptions” creative art exhibition at the Enlighten showroom in Zamalek. Founded by Noha Mohsen, Enlighten is a creative lighting design studio in Cairo for unique decorative lighting fixtures and effects.

In collaboration with ten  Egyptian multidisciplinary creatives, the exhibition fused specific lighting products and techniques by Enlighten, such as architectural lighting, to highlight the concept of light as a divine medium and a spiritual guide through the installation work of these creatives.

Enlighten also teamed up with nonprofit charity organization Khayrazad, which provides support for several hospitals and medical institutions in a variety of ways, to give back to the community, where proceeds from the event auction go towards restoring eyesight to the  blind through Professor Hazem Yassin’s foundation, ‘The Right of Sight’.

“For me, spirituality is very different for different people, and it’s different at different points in one’s life. This initiative is a platform for the perspectives and reflections of spirituality by different artists, and to showcase that through the medium of light. Throughout one’s life and one’s journey, you see light differently, you have the light that is within you, the light that people shine on you, and the light that comes from your environment, which continually changes your interpretation,” Noha Mohsen, founder and creative director of Enlighten, tells Egyptian Streets.

The presence of each artist’s own spiritual perspective was not only seen through their creative works, but felt through the ambient atmosphere of the room. Touching on the universal experience of spirituality, the Enlighten showroom was transformed into a museum-like space showcasing pieces that explore fashion, jewelry, sculpture, art, food, and music.

The show runs from 13 April until 17 April, and includes installations by renowned fashion designers Mounaz and Aya AbdelRaouf of OKHTEIN, pioneering jewelry designer Dima Rashid of Dima Jewelry, arhitect Hala Saleh founder of TDF+, furniture design duo Hassan Abu Seda and Jihan Touni representing HAF, gourmet chef Karim Abdelrahman and visual artist Karim El Hayawan, Mohamed Talaia, creative director at the Design Avenue, multidisciplinary creative director Kegham Djeghalian, and composer Ahmed Fahmy.

Karim El Hayawan. Courtesy of Little Circus

Exploring the relationship between the mediums of water and light, Karim El-Hayawan explores in his video art ‘Terra Lucida,’ the way water and light are related to one another, and how the cleansing and purification properties of water can help one reach their inner light – where everything else dissolves and recrystallizes to one’s true nature – a being of love and light.

“When I work on video art, I go through my archive and see what speaks to me. I usually have an emotion that I want to reflect, and this emotion is usually carried along with me. In this piece specifically, I wanted to approach the relationship between light and water, because water constitutes the majority of our planet and the majority of our existence,” El-Hayawan says.

“The idea of how water and light dance together was interesting for me, and you will see snippets that reflect the journey that we all pursue in our lives to reach the inner light. Eventually, once we reach that inner light, we realize that it’s a mere candlelight of the sun’s light.”

For Mohamed Talaia, creative director and managing partner at Design Avenue, spirituality is essentially about the journey of self-reflection, and how one can be more deeply immersed in their introspective journey regardless of the shifting circumstances.

Mohamed Talaia. Courtesy of Little Circus

Talaia’s interactive mirror installation emulates one’s journey in search of the light. The installation consists of 60 different panels with reflective surfaces, each aiming to provoke different experiences of reflection with different types of textures. The relationship and compositions of the panels play a role in the user’s experience as the reflective surfaces infinitely reflect each other.

“My work relies on people’s experiences of events, and for this design, the concept revolved around the illusion of seeing light at the end of the tunnel, but as you go in search of the light, you discover that the light is everywhere,” Talaia says. “I have mirrors reflecting each other, the reflections themselves are different, because sometimes when you self-reflect, you can either see things as clear and sometimes foggy, but you have to continue the journey regardless.”

The event comes at a time where apparent technological advances are rising in parallel with the burden of mental health issues, with a 13 percent  rise in mental health conditions and substance use disorders in the last decade, according to the World Health Organization.

This staggering reality poses one question: Are humans spiritually sick? And how can many rekindle the inner candlelight in a world marked by unrest and chaos?

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