Cairo Bats are a collective of female artists based in Cairo that meet to stage photographs through playful interactions in semi-public spaces. Act 1: The Roof is the first public exhibition of Cairo Bats work and assembles a series of pictures spanning a period of two years taken on roof tops in the city. Cairo Bats are currently working on a new body of work under the working title Act 2: The Play.
The Cairo Bats group has been working together for three years and currently consists of the artists Mai Al Shazly, Yvonne Buchheim, Magdalena Kallenberger, Hagar Masoud, Nadia Mounier, Omneia Naguib.
In the images the members of the group act as the cast set in scene on this urban stage equivalent to improvisational theater. Their performative interventions evolve in response to architectural features and objects they find in the chosen place: buckets, rugs, satellite dishes, furniture and metal bars. The interactions among the individual group members are the basis of their working process whereby the camera is a witness to their performance and all six group members move between in front and behind the camera. A particular emphasis is given to the positioning of clothes: a pair of boots, a black shirt, a white dress are used as stand-ins for absent members of the group. The theme of exploring absence and presence in relation to given circumstances and settings continues throughout the series, however at night different light sources join the cast and underline the play of what is visible and invisible.
The act of taking photographs in a semi-public space navigates and defies the conditions of visibility in everyday environments. The location of the roof at the margins of the domestic order of the house or the apartment, in between the private and the public, echoes in the groups recurring play with what can be seen and what is hidden from view and their relation to topics inherent to working with cameras such as the picture frame, light and darkness or the camera position. Combining pictures taken in different locations, by day and by night time, from the earliest working sessions to the most recent one, Act 1: The Roof shares with the public what has so far been a working process within the collective.