Srđan Tunić

art historian, freelance curator, cultural manager and researcher

The New Gods: Srđan Tunić in conversation with Omar Houssien (Sumac Space, 2021)

The New Gods is a mixed media artwork series by Egyptian artist Omar Houssien. Here the ancient deities of Egypt are reinterpreted through the lens of contemporary society, culture, and symbology. We see the god of disorder, Seth, as an Arab Spring protester, the goddess of joy and femininity, Hathor, as a belly dancer, the supreme Ra as an omnipotent president, or Nephthys as an influencer.

Combining the languages of pop art, advertising, and popular culture, the artist aims to create a critical reflection of contemporary and Egyptian society, as well as to offer a vision that is locally grounded, given that the Egyptian gods have become among the fantasy genre’s stock figures. All artworks were made between 2013 and 2019, during and as a reaction to the Arab Spring.

Each artwork is accompanied by a bronze engraved plaque, with a description of the deity. Similar to museum labels, each plaque had “technical information” such as major cult centers and names in hieroglyphs. The descriptions were written in a way that would accurately describe the deity, but push the viewer to draw parallels to the version represented.

Conveniently, we will take the image of the pyramid to visually convey the power stratification of The New Gods: from the supreme gods representing the state and military (such as Ra), then gods serving the government in various ways (like propaganda and religion), followed by independent shapers of the society (like Horus and Shu), and lastly ones outside the mainstream power.

For Sumac space, curator Srđan Tunić chats with the artist about each individual god to understand their past and contemporary image.

Read all about it here: https://sumac.space/dialogues/the-new-gods-srdan-tunic-in-conversation-with-omar-houssien/

Thanks Davood Madadpoor and Katharina Ehrl from Sumac Space for making this possible!

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