Mahmoud Khaled

Mahmoud Khaled’s multidisciplinary practice explores the areas between the personal, the political, the historical and the social, with a special focus on the construction of male identity, especially in the Arab world. In a world increasingly shaped and experienced through mediated and virtual exchanges, Khaled’s work examines the boundaries between what is real and what is hidden, disguised or staged. The artist thus probes social relations, online communities, romantic love and desire. In the exhibition he is presenting Do You Have Work Tomorrow? (2013), a series of 32 screen shots of a staged conversation on an iPhone, in the city of Cairo, transformed into black and white photographs developed in a dark room. The work juxtaposes the physical and the virtual, the analogue and the digital in content and form – pitting the dualities that perhaps most characterise or experience of contemporary life. The conversation was staged using the gay male dating app Grindr. As it unfolds, it reveals political undertones, inferring to the backdrop of a city in political turmoil and state surveillance. Both the exchange and the possibility of consummating (male) desire thus become statements in the exercise of personal and political freedom. Through this simulated act of exchange, Khaled also explores the specific language, vocabulary and grammar that arise from digital interactions of ephemeral desire. The dialogue reveals the expectations, emotive or psychological aspects of sexual identity construction and reconstruction during online chatting, while placing them within a socio-political context where being gay is still, for many, considered taboo. But ultimately, the work is a comment on the cross-overs between private and public life, the emancipatory potential of the digital and, finally, on the nature of virtual encounters that may or may not become real.

Mahmoud Khaled