Egyptian artist Ahmed Badry’s new solo exhibition entitled Portmanteau—at Letitia Gallery in Beirut—investigates our relationship with day-to-day objects. Through the usage of mixed media, Badry question’s our relationship with the items and their functionality in the everyday.
Badry’s interest in reinterpreting everyday objects initially began whilst living in Zurich, where people’s relationships with objects felt completely different to what he was used to back home in Cairo: “I used to repair malfunctioning objects myself and I was astounded by the presence of specialized technicians appointed to fix home appliances or electrical items when you could do it yourself. I found myself interested in the tricks people adopted to overcome mechanical problems and everyday malfunctions”, says Badry.
It’s from this point that the 39-year-old artist felt inspired to create drawings, sculptures, photographs, animations, and 3D printings of “temporary solutions” – all using everyday objects. He calls them “hybrids”. “The hybrids produce a disruption in communication and become the vehicle to the formation of new terms and language”, says Badry.
The title Portmanteau is a linguistic blend of two words, which reveals the artist’s creative and intellectual reasoning. It recalls the combinations of the objects, while also highlighting the linguistic aspects they encapsulate.
By removing omnipresent objects from their social context, Badry re-examines their role within society, and invites the audience to rethink the relationship between production and consumption: “are objects scattered around the world as passive commodities, or can they disrupt the system, invoke a change, and prompt a development?”.
Portmanteau, April 19 – June 17, Letitia Gallery, Beirut