Heba Y. Amin is an Egyptian mixed-media and performance artist who uses satire and irony within her intensely researched installations, focusing on anti-fascist activist interventionism, post-colonial history, diaspora, feminism, and global ecological change.Read More
Professor of Digital and Time-Based Art at the State Academy of Fine Arts, Stuttgart. she is also the co-founder of The Black Athena Collective.
Raised in Cairo, Amin's many academic qualifications include: Bachelor of Arts, Studio Art, Macalester College, Saint Paul, Minnesota (1998–2002); Postgraduate study in painting, Macalester College (2002–2003); Master of Fine Arts, College of Design, University of Minnesota (2005–2009); and Digital Cultures Research Lab Fellow, Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University, Lϋneberg, Germany (2017).
As Birds Flying (2016) is a short and lyrical video of swirling storks high above the Galilea desert. Like its sister project, The General's Stork (2016), it is about surveillance and paranoia, based on a 2013 event in which a stork tagged by Hungarian scientists was captured by Egyptian fisherman, who believed it was carrying a spy camera. As Birds Flying alludes to an earlier 1995 film, Birds of Darkness, by Adel Imam, where the dialogue references religious and secular disputes between political candidates in Egypt.
Walking a Watermelon in Cairo (2016) references the Chinese artist Han Bing's performance Walking the Cabbage in Tiananmen (2000), a walk that challenges the repetitive nature of daily assumptions and the conventional use of a public space. Both alluded to Situationism, Dada, and Surrealism as ambulatory interventions.
Walking a Watermelon in Cairo also nodded to the Arab Spring movement of anti-government protests, and was an anti-technology gesture mocking the technical intricacies of surveillance hardware.
Another project, Operation Sunken Sea (2018) is a parody of techno-utopian fantasies. It proposes the extraordinary notion of draining the Mediterranean Sea and channelling the water to the heart of Africa, thereby merging Africa physically with the Middle East, helping the flow of migration, enabling more employment, and hopefully, too, promoting democratic systems over fascistic ones.
This artist has been involved with other artistic endeavours too, and is a sought-after curator.
The Black Athena Collective was founded in late 2015 by Amin and Dawit L. Petros to attack the Eurocentric bias of landscape discourse and its methodological assumptions. Engaging in political discourse 'connected to the Red Sea region from Eritrea to Egypt,' through multi-disciplinary procedures, it looks at 'dominant territorial logics and constitution of place ... specifically at architecture in relation to errant bodies.'
Amin is the recipient of the Fondazione Merz 'ad occhi chuisi...' prize (2021), the Anni and Heinrich Sussmann Artist Award (2020), and a Shuttleworth Foundation Flash Grant (2017). She was shortlisted for the Paolo Cuhna E. Silva Prize (2019) and the Kunstpreis de Böttcherstrasse (2018).
Heba Y. Amin has participated in many solo and group exhibitions.
Solo exhibitions include Zilberman Gallery, Berlin (2022); Heba Y. Amin: When I see the future, I close my eyes, The Mosiac Rooms, London (2021); Fruit from Saturn, The Center for Persecuted Arts, Solingen, Germany (2020); A Rectilinear Propagation of Thought, Zilberman Gallery, Berlin (2018); The Earth is an Imperfect Ellipsoid, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2016).
Group exhibitions include Shadow Architecture, Metro Arts, Brisbane (2021); The Refracted Body, Liverpool Biennial (2021); Library of Land and Sea, 5th Istanbul Design Biennial (2020); Tell me about yesterday tomorrow, Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism (2019); CrossSections, ExLab, the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki (2019); Tribe: Contemporary Photography from the Arab World, Katzen Arts Centre, American University Museum, Washington, D.C. (2018); Playing Innocent, MMAG Foundation, Amman (2018).
Amin's work is held in the collection of The British Museum, London.
John Hurrell | Ocula | 2022