The Egyptian artist on his conceptual installation that is currently on display at the FIAC contemporary art fair in Paris:
I started “Sun Boat” three years ago. It went through various phases and it was beautiful; I learned from it. The first inspiration for this work, as far as I remember, goes back to when I was a kid and I went with my parents to visit the sun boat next to the Pyramids. It’s incredibly long, strong and it moved me, especially how the paddles of the boat were placed crossed over each other. Visually, it lived with me for a long time.
The idea of the sun boat is to take you from this life to the other life — it’s about migrating, moving, and evolving. I was also thinking that this is how it is in life. Migrating is not only about moving from one place to another; it also happens inside you. If you look at yourself and your history — where you were and where you are now — are you the same person? We migrate for a better life, for food and so on — bread is symbolic in this work — but, at the same time, we migrate for our (wellbeing and) happiness. My work is always about studying, learning, and trying to evolve as a person.
This work has around 360 — like the number of days in a year — bread spatulas, which are from old bakeries in Cairo. It also goes in a circle. I wanted to show that everything is in a circle — like day and night, death and life… And I placed the spatulas in this crossed way, similar to the visual image (of the paddles) that I’ve had in my memories since I was a kid.
As an artist, all I need is to make people see what they don’t see. We see these paddles every day, and millions of people have seen the sun boat, whether in the museum or on the Internet. But what did they see? They only saw the outside, and not the core and meaning of these things. I’m not giving solutions, I’m just making people wonder, think, and try to communicate with the work.