Susan Hefuna

The Strange and the Familiar

  • Nile Delta, Egypt, 2000 C-print mounted behind Plexiglas 120 × 200 cm
  • 4 Women – 4 Views, 2001 C-Print mounted behind Plexiglas 140 × 200 cm Edition of 7
  • Screen I, 2009 Wood, ink 35 × 25 × 14 cm
  • Screen I, 2009 Wood, ink 35 × 25 × 14 cm
  • Bild 028

Curated by Karolina Jeftic, UBS Arts Program

Pi Artworks is happy to announce that Susan Hefuna has been invited by UBS to have a solo exhibition at Castle Wolfsberg, Switzerland. The Strange and the Familiar, curated by Karolina Jeftic, will bring together Hefuna’s photography, masks, videos, and drawings.
For the exhibition, Jeftic has selected works by the artist that respond in a sensitive manner to the idyllic region surrounding Lake Constance that Castle Wolfsberg is located within.
Hefuna’s multi-layered works juxtapose objective observations and personal narratives drawn from the varied cultural contexts she has experienced in life.

Since her childhood, she has been fascinated by the traditional Swabian-Alemannic carnival that takes place each year near Lake Constance. An important part of the carnival’s customs is the use of wooden masks. In collaboration with artisans from the area, Hefuna has reproduced her face, depicted in various moods, inspired by traditional arnival masks.
In 2010, Inge Scholz-Strasser from Freud Museum, Vienna, said about Hefuna’s mask series:
(…) The artist enters into the play of identity and image, masquerade and disguise, presenting wooden masks that reproduce her face in various moods and are amplified by framings. In doing so, she references Freud’s fundamental assumption that the uncanny (das Unheimliche) is rooted in the familiar, the homey (das Heimische). On the level of three-dimensional sculpture, Hefuna explores the intercultural discourse surrounding an identity seeking a home between the worlds of up rootedness, memory and uncanniness. (…)
Installed near the castle’s windows are her well-known delicately composed ink and pencil drawings on paper and tracing paper that allude to the architectural aesthetic of local frame houses.

Hefuna’s black and white photographs series Landscape/ Cityscape (1999—2002) are taken with a pinhole camera and show scenes from the streets of Cairo and the Nile Delta -two locations with important personal connotations for the artist. These hazy images, developed in the dust and dirt of the streets and layered through this unique photographical process, allude to the 19th century daguerreotype postcards by Lehnert and Landrock. The original images, which were fabricated to reflect European assumptions of what life in Egypt would be like, were full of orientalist-stereotyped depictions of the women of the region. In her images, Hefuna walks into the frame in contemporary dress to intervene and disrupt the predetermined cultural signifiers. Despite their sombre mood and their obvious autobiographical references, these photographs resist being labelled as self-portraits. By bringing these Pinhole Photographs to Lake Constance the artist adds another layer to her work, as Landrock spent the last years of his life in the area after returning from Egypt.
Over the last two years Susan Hefuna has had solo exhibitions at the The Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE; the Osthaus Museum, Hagen, Germany; both Pi Artworks London and Pi Artworks Istanbul; and Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, USA. Her works on paper have been recently acquired by the Barjeel foundation acquired by Centre Pompidou, France, LACMA, USA, and King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Saudi Arabia and will be exhibited at the Whitechapel Gallery, London in 2016.

For more information on the exhibition:
Phone: +41 71 663 51 51