The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
In Old City, 110 Church Gallery is located in the heart of Philadelphia's densest conglomeration of galleries and art spaces, but it still maintains an air of distance from the main drag. Nestled on the narrow Church Street, the area seems like a colonial getaway compared to the nearby storefronts hardly a block away around 2nd and Market. The space also rightfully prioritizes artists above all else. Sales go entirely to those exhibiting, which is certainly refreshing news for creators.
Currently, 110 Church is showcasing photographs from the “Future Cities” series by Noah Addis in partnership with the Center for Emerging Visual Aritsts (CFEVA), a Knight Arts grantee. Curated by Stella Gassaway, this series documents the unplanned growth and informal settlements of major cities around the world. For this exhibit, Addis turns his lens on Cairo, just two years after Arab Spring protests in the region ultimately led to the ousting of then-president Hosni Mubarak.
The migration away from rural areas and into urban centers that offer more opportunity in a stale economy is hardly more evident anywhere than in a nation like Egypt. These factors precipitated unrest in one of the largest Middle Eastern countries, and eventually shifted the political power and path of progress. Addis focuses on the building projects that emerged during this tumultuous period in Cairo, capturing depopulated scenes of construction sites and residential areas.
With a discerning eye for photojournalism, Addis shoots these dusty images to display the tenacity and resolve of the Egyptian people through the products of their labor. Right angles, pinkish bricks and stony cliff faces dot the landscape, broken up only by the soft green leaves of adjoining fields and carpets draped from windows of newly built homes.
One skeletal form in “Construction; Manshiet Nasser, Cairo” reveals the wooden framework of an in-progress structure, the workers apparently having left for the evening. These tall planks appear thin and toothpick-like at this distance, but mirror the tops of incomplete buildings in other photos, whose half-bricked facades reveal how gigantic some of these projects really are.
Perhaps the most impressive image overall is a shot of a lush, leafy agricultural expanse and a flat block of brick towering above it, other urban details lost in the hazy Egyptian atmosphere. This one photograph does well to summarize the contemporary climate of Cairo and of the global shift to cities at large. The show will be up until July 27, when there will also be an artist talk at the gallery at 1:30 p.m.
110 Church Gallery is located at 110 Church Street, right off of 2nd and Market, Philadelphia; firstname.lastname@example.org; heavybubble.com/110-church.