Iskenderiyan Standards

Iskenderiyan Standards is the collective work of 13 writers and artists from Alexandria, Egypt, who joined forces in 2011 to engage in an exploration of their ambivalent relationship with the European Other (see ISOE Pre-Event #1). In a moment when Egypt emerged as a deeply divided society and accusations of serving „foreign agendas“ were commonplace, the issues of otherness and difference appeared as more urgent than ever.

This conversation was continued in a ten-days writers' lab held in collaboration with the anthropologist Samuli Schielke in Alexandria in October 2012 (ISOE Pre-Event #4). The debates, thoughts and negotiations deriving from those days found their form in the literary anthology Iskenderiyan Standards, which also provided the name for the group and the artwork.

The exhibition shows three works: a handmade literary anthology edited and designed by Maher Sherif, a wall comic produced in collaboration by Aliaa ElGready, Maher Sherif and Ahmed Salem, and black and white portraits of the authors of the Iskenderiyan Standards anthology by Samuli Schielke. In the book, elaborately shaped collages and hand-colored illustrations give the poems, essays, and short stories (both in Arabic and English) a special character. The wall comic extends from right to left – the direction in which Arabic is read – through the second exhibition room in the style of a graphic novel, with literary texts, photographs, and passages from discussions in the course of their collaboration. With this site-specific work, the artists Maher Sherif, Ahmed Salem, and Aliaa ElGready narrate the story of a complex relationship with the European in Alexandria, a port city where North and South have always crossed paths.

This work was developed in collaboration with the anthropologist Samuli Schielke, head of the ISOE research group.
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Iskenderiyan Standards/ Wallcomic, Mixed media, 2013, Installationview Photo by (c) Mike Terry


Aliaa ElGready is an Egyptian visual artist whose work varies from installation pieces and video installations to paintings and jewelry. ElGready’s work attempts to open up a space for re-thinking the inputs and postulates that create the form of contemporary relations between human beings. In 2003, she co-founded the Gudran Association for Art and Development in Alexandria. ElGready has held several exhibitions and performances in Egypt, Cameroon, Senegal, Spain, Italy, and Germany.

Ahmed Salem was born in Alexandria in 1973. He is founder of the Origami Fun Club, and of the Fabrica comic magazine. He also works as a trainer and forum theater joker.

Maher Sherif is a writer and book illustrator, and lives and works in Alexandria. He received a license in law from the University of Alexandria in 1985. He is a founding member of the Eskenderella Arts and Culture Association, and producer of the series of handmade books Yadawiya. He is the author of the books al-Kull (“Everything,” short stories, 2004), Hikaya wa-hikaya (“A Story and a Story,” short stories, 2006), and Qisas al-'ishq (“The Stories of Love,” short stories, 2012).