foundation deposits
1 October 2018



Foundation Deposits | Nadia Gohar
SOIL Gallery
June 7th – 30th, 2018

Foundation Deposits explores migration, historical memory and sociality as a survival response. Modeled after archaeological remains of foundation deposits – ritual relics buried beneath architectural points of structures – Gohar reconstructs facets of her upbringing in Cairo, Egypt in a series of mixed media installations.

At the center of the gallery, Gohar has built a fountain, which harkens to both its presence in Islamic garden imagery and a social nexus in public space. In Cairo, the public fountain conveys its functionality as a meeting place as well as highlight water as a resource that shapes people’s socialities and livelihoods. In the historical imaginary, gardens are places that localize our fantasies of innocence, immortality, and social utopia.

A series of red brick installations surround the fountain. As a solution to Cairo’s growing population and the influx of people who arrive to the capital city from the outskirts of Egypt in search of work, many buildings are comprised of concrete frameworks filled entirely with red bricks. These structures are commonly erected without permits, yet they house more than half of the population. Like the fountain, the bricks serve as provisional signposts and tools for the ever-changing landscape of the city, revealing an alternative map of migration.

If these deposits were believed to safeguard the building and those who will live in them for years to come, Nadia Gohar’s installations consider present-day Cairo’s possible protection objects. We shift our focus from items deliberately buried to that which is built in the everyday: the exchanges, relations, and creations that people develop in shared circumstances.

Text by Minh Nguyen (exhibition curator), 2018

PDF: exhibition publication | Curator’s note, Nadia Gohar & Merray Gerges; In Conversation, & Familial Treasures by Nasrin Himada

With thanks to generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts