Questions about the quality of existence and the inequality of access to resources are among the main concerns of Anna Boghiguian’s work today. Boghiguian is a nomadic observer of the world whose work results in poetic reports of its condition. For Cities by the River, her new installation for the 31st Bienal, she made small drawings and paintings in her studio in Cairo and on her travels through India, Europe and Brazil. Boghiguian worked in small cafes in the centre of cities and along the Nile, Ganges and Amazon rivers, recording her impressions of the environment. Alongside these works she installs beehives and honeycombs to represent the forms of human social relations that she contemplated en route. Bees have a social structure that is both monarchical and democratic, in that the worker bees themselves collaborate to serve the queen. The bees reflect on the changes Egypt has gone through in the past years – before, during and after the revolution from monarchy to a dressed up form of democracy that still remains authoritarian. The inequality between the rulers and subjects and the exploitation of a country’s natural treasures are hinted at in the combination of the drawing and the honeycombs.
Over the years, Anna Boghiguian has made drawings, collages, images mixed with text and found objects or sculptures, as a way of recording her travels. Her work can be read partly as visual reports or a visual diary reflecting our confused times. She often interweaves literature and religious texts, mythology and poetry, as well as political analysis of her surroundings. Boghiguian continues to have a conflicted relationship with contemporary megacities, and captures the complex essence of the traffic on the streets, the people in the market or Indian trains, and signs of conflict and collapse. – GE