Egyptian, b. 1984
Lives and works in Cairo, Egypt
Artist Taha Belal often appropriates and transforms imagery drawn from newspapers and magazines to address how their meanings are constituted through contextual and formal choices, ranging from placement to printing processes.
In Untitled (pictures backwards), Belal works with a Cairo newspaper’s coverage of the weeks leading up to the Egyptian presidential elections, examining how this highly politicized moment was transformed into “news” for a two-dimensional platform. To create the work, Belal cut out all of the rectangular images from each page of the newspaper; using applied pressure from a pen, he then transferred the newspaper ink onto sheets of glossy photo paper. As if attempting to elevate the original photographs from their diminished state—from cheap newsprint in the service of a propaganda machine to highly individualized photographic “prints”—Belal’s practice is a metaphor for the activity of the engaged viewer.
Belal’s work has been quickly embraced for its pertinent and insightful commentary. To date, he has been included in exhibitions at San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, CA (2007); Pro Arts Gallery, Oakland, CA (2008); Fine Arts Gallery, San Francisco State University (2010); Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA (2011); and the Popular Workshop, San Francisco, CA (2011). Belal was awarded a Murphy & Cadogan Fellowship through the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery (2007) and an MFA Fellow Residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts (2008). He was nominated for San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s SECA Award (2010). Most recently, his work was included in the acclaimed traveling group exhibition Tea with Nefertiti, presented at Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; l’Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, and the Institut Valenciá d’Art Modern (2013–2014). Together with the artist Jenifer Evans, Belal co-founded Nile Sunset Annex, an exhibition space and archive operating out of an apartment in Cairo.