A self sufficient video | يتاذلا ءافتكلاا ويديف

Concept, Camera and Editing: Aras Ozgun and Yasmine Shash
Music Excerpts: Scanner, Sublime Frequencies, Rami Ayach
HD, 9:30 mins, Cairo-New York, 2010

  The video takes its title from a satirical monologue in Naguib Mahfouz's "A Drift on the Nile", in which the protagonist questions the logic of state-centric modernization policies built on the idea of economic self-sufficiency, which characterize the Egyptian political history and public life just as any other "developing country". Using the "window" as a metaphor as well as a practical visual device, "A Self Sufficient Video" traces an iconography of Cairo's everyday urban practice. It presents a cityscape as seen from the apartment windows; never ending construction sites scattered around the city, the sculpturesque satellite dishes on top of every building that contrast with the poverty that surrounds them through their high-tech reference, the colorful balconies and windows of unfinished building blocks of the urban poor --marking, affirming and denying their poverty altogether at the same time, and the layers of dust on the windows themselves --the only reference to the time that passes in the "city of sand" which got lost somewhere in the past on its way to a modern future. By framing these cityscapes with the windows, the camera asserts a visible distance between the inside --the private domain, and the outside --the public life. At a later moment, the camera overrides this distance, frames the movement of the city by becoming a part of it, through the windows of the car, passageways, or police boxes on the sidewalks, and goes back and forth on this line of tension between inside and outside. The resulting iconography of Cairo actually carries a "self sufficient political commentary" on the city's public life itself.