Kunstsammlung NRW
Foto: Hamdy Reda

“I Myself Am an Anti-System” – #32 meets Hamdy Reda

In 2007, the Egyptian Hamdy Reda founded the artspace artellewa in a district of Cairo: among unpaved streets, urban chaos, and political upheavals, he established himself as an exhibition organizer, networker, curator, and offers regular seminars, exhibitions, an artist residency program, and workshops. As the second guest of the F3 Goethe Residency Program, he spent four weeks in Düsseldorf in October of 2014.

Shortly before his return to Egypt, Arnika Fürgut met Hamdy Reda at the K20 for #32.

#32: Gallery, experimental laboratory, social space, studio: your artspace artellewa is difficult to categorize. How do you see it yourself, and what is your role there?

Reda: First and foremost, I see myself neither as a gallerist nor an art dealer, and probably not as a curator either – I see myself instead as an artist. artellewa is my work of art, my greatest art project. It is an interactive space for experimentation where art comes into being and is displayed as communication. We refer to the various spaces within artellewa colloquially as, for example, the “kitchen” or the “mixer” – because there, we bring together conversations and ideas, allowing them to mix together, because we want to initiate processes of “preparation” in an almost culinary sense, of “cultivation.” That is why the audience and the geographical context are so important to me – all that belongs to artellewa. If I wanted to show my artspace at Documenta, for example, I would have to pack half of Cairo into an airplane.

#32: You’ve just spent a month getting to know a large German museum – where do you perceive differences between a space like artellewa and an institution like the Kunstsammlung?

Reda: You could explain it by means of an image: the two spaces relate to one another like a little stone and enormous cliff – the little stone is light and mobile, you can carry it around you in your pants pocket, it’s however not always large or heavy enough to have much of an impact. A large cliff, on the other hand, can only be brought into a state of motion through enormous force, but with it, you can build tremendous things – for example a pyramid. (laughs)

#32: Tomorrow, you're flying back to Cairo. What will you bring back home with you from Germany? What do you like in particular about Düsseldorf?

Reda: In Germany, I noticed again and again that everything here is very well organized, everything functions according to a system – I myself however am a kind of anti-system. At times, that makes it slightly difficult for me to feel at ease here, even though I like the atmosphere very much. Everything is clean and orderly, so tidy. For me, it's especially important that I return to Cairo with open eyes: here, I had terrific opportunities to sharpen my vision. When it comes to Düsseldorf, I will miss in particular its beautiful green parks – even though the landscape here is very different from the one in Egypt, I like it very much.