Exhibition – GUIDEPOSTS

Exhibition – GUIDEPOSTS


Medrar For Contemporary Art

10 February 2022 - 10 March 2022

 10 Feb – 10 March 2022 

10 Feb – 10 March 2022
Daily from 1 to 9 pm (Fridays closed)
Opening 10 February at 7 pm

Medrar is pleased to present Guideposts, a solo exhibition by Bassem Yousri investigating the form and function of structures born of a culture of improvised troubleshooting in a shifting cityscape. The show takes its cues from the creative pragmatism that has created the trademark vernacular aesthetic that permeates public space in Cairo. The works are a continuation of Yousri’s ongoing project, Guideposts, in which the artist investigates what he terms the “institutional aesthetic” — a slapdash approach to problem solving that he first noted in government buildings, but which is also prevalent in public spaces.

Characterised by visual clutter, provisional assemblages, and a hybridity that suggests new meanings for commonplace objects, the prevalence of this vernacular aesthetic is a physical manifestation of an infrastructural vacuum. In this space of potentialities, new strategies of versatile problem-solving emerge, highlighting an acute awareness of temporality and a mistrust of anything but the lived present. The exhibited artworks by Yousri respond, in various ways, to this state, edifying structures that give tangible form to strategies of self-reliance in an amorphous and evolving urban space, and to the forms of social interaction they inadvertently create. 

Appearing at first as an incoherent mishmash of materials, Yousri’s playful, mixed-media wall sculptures retain a functionality that bypasses conventional notions of urban planning and utilitarian design. Their lopsided grids of pipes, bulbs and wires display a disregard for a streamlined form, presenting instead a visual randomness that is purposefully constructed to circumvent a specific material reality. A state of excess characterises the works, intentionally creating a sensory overload that foregrounds conflicting claims over public space.

Yousri combines his sculptures with absurd textual injunctions and interactive elements to present a tongue-in-cheek probe into the existing authority of artwork over spectator. In doing so, the artist also questions the dissonance between the demands of institutional authority and the hybrid, inconsistent facade through which they are communicated. 

The show takes place in parallel to a complementary dual artist exhibition titled How to Build a City with Two Nails and a Wire in which a selection of Bassem Yousri’s sculptures are placed in dialogue with drawings and sculptures by Ahmed Badry, taking place in Gypsum Gallery. Badry’s exhibited works continue his speculation on non-functional objects through drawings and mock-ups for seemingly unbuildable, but existent homes. The artworks propose whimsical plans for an inherently unplanned phenomenon, referencing the politics of informal housing. The Gypsum exhibition runs from 17 February till 31 March 2022.

This project was realised thanks to a grant from The Culture Resource (Al Mawred Al Thaqafi) and to technical support provided by ADEF (Arab Digital Expression Foundation). The exhibition is organised and hosted by Medrar for Contemporary Art in collaboration with Gypsum Gallery.



March 1 from 6 – 8 pm at Medrar 

An accompanying panel discussion between architect and urban planner Omar Nagati (CLUSTER) and urban researcher and designer Ahmed Zaazaa (10 Tooba, Madd, Megawra) moderated by Gypsum Co-Director Lara El Gibaly will take place at Medrar on March 1 from 6 – 8 pm. The speakers will expound on the implications of the vernacular aesthetic to which the artworks respond to our lived experience of the city.


March 21 at 7 pm at Medrar