Act 1: The Roof
CAIRO BATS is a female artist collective based in Cairo staging photographs through playful interactions in urban public spaces. The resulting images aim to destabilize ways of thinking about how female bodies perform in the city, inhabit specific environments, and interact with the constant manoeuvring in everyday spaces.
The Cairo Bats group has been working together for seven years and currently consists of the artists Mai Al Shazly, Nadia Mounier, Hagar Masoud, Omneia Naguib, Yvonne Buchheim, Magdalena Kallenberger and Mireille El Magrissy.
Act 1: The Roof is the first public exhibition of Cairo Bats’ work and assembles a series of pictures spanning a period of two years taken on roof tops in the city. These spaces navigate and defy limitations of the everyday environments women inhabit. In the images the members of the group act as the cast on this urban stage, equivalent to improvisational theatre. Their performative interventions evolve in response to architectural features and objects they find in the chosen place: buckets, rugs, satellite dishes, furniture and metal bars. Playful interactions among the individual group members are the basis of their working process whereby the camera is a witness to their performative interventions with all six group members constantly moving between, in front of and behind the camera. A particular emphasis is given to the positioning of clothes: a pair of boots, a black shirt, a white dress are used as stand-ins for absent members of the group.
The theme of exploring absence and presence in relation to given circumstances and settings continues throughout the series; however, at night different light sources join the cast and underline the play of what is visible and invisible.
The location of the roof at the margins of the domestic order of the house or the apartment, in between the private and the public, echoes in the groups recurring play with what can be seen and what is hidden from view, and their relation to topics inherent to working with cameras such as the picture frame, light and darkness or the camera position. Combining pictures taken in different locations, by day and by night, from the earliest working sessions to the most recent one Act 1: The Roof shares with the public what has so far been a working process within the collective.