The Baggage of the Colonized: Self-Conscious Othering in a Global Contemporary Art World

Written by Chaerin Kwon
Edited by Catherine LaMendola

Humiliation, anger, and shame fill the bystanders who witness a group of labourers crawling on all fours across Champollion Street in Cairo, Egypt. On December 14th, 2009, members of the Cairo public became spectators to Amal Kenawy’s participatory performance artwork, Silence of the Sheep (2009) (fig. 1). Kenawy marches forward as she leads the group of crawling labourers, who seem undaunted by the chaos of surrounding traffic (fig. 2). Among the group are her brother Abdel Gahny, curator Sarah Rifty, two dozen children, and a dozen volunteers. Cars honk and onlookers stare; some dismiss this unusual scene and continue with their day, while others pull out their smartphones to record footage. After about four minutes of crawling, the resentful voices of bystanders begin to rise. These spectators swarm around Kenawy, encroaching on her personal space. They angrily express their embarrassment on behalf of the crawling workers, who themselves stay silent (fig. 3). Kenawy’s intention for Silence of the Sheep was a public commentary on the Egyptian people’s political apathy towards their own living conditions, and she initially planned to refrain from interacting with the public during the performance.[1] However, she broke her own rule as she attempted to answer their questions, which ranged from “Making people walk like animals is visual art?!” to “What interaction?!”  In response to the altercation, the police came and arrested most of the performers for the night.[2] Notable, and the focus of this paper, is the affective expression of shame experienced by the spectators on behalf of the labourers. Comments like, “Do you, or do not have to understand in the beginning rather than giving a bad image to your country?” “You don’t care about your Egyptian pride?” and “Shame on you! Don’t speak! You brought shame onto all of us!” reproach not only the artist, but also themselves as people of a nation whose weaknesses have been exposed to the Western gaze. Likely to the spectators’ dismay, Kenawy included the altercation in her video documentation to be shown in various exhibitions. A year later, Silence of the Sheep won the Grand Prize at the Cairo Biennale; the bystanders’ dreaded moment had materialized, as shameful flaws of the nation had been exhibited to the international public.

Figure 1. Amal Kenawy, Silence of the Sheep, 2009. Installation view at the 13th Istanbul Biennial, 2013. Performance and video transferred to DVD, PAL, 4:3, 8:51 min. Courtesy The Amal Kenawy Estate and Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts. Photo by Servet Dilbe.

In Shuruq Harb’s Ibraaz article about Kenawy’s work, Harb addresses that existing discussions regarding the heat of the altercation attribute the source of the public’s anger to the patriarchal Egyptian public’s inability to accept Kenawy’s femininity in a leadership position.[3] Harb notes that this argument would invalidate the political and moral reasons for which the public had voiced themselves to explain their indignation, as these explanations would then only be excuses to discredit a female leader.[4] However, I propose understanding the differing rationales through the lens of intersectionality: I suggest that the political and moral complaints stated by the bystanders in addition to gender bias both contribute to the public’s negative affects.[5] With this intersectionality in mind, I argue that the affect of shame expressed by the members of the Cairo public in response to Kenawy’s Silence of the Sheep is rooted in a geo-cultural self-consciousness within the contemporary Western-centric world; this self-consciousness is informed by Egypt’s histories of colonization and the Cairo public’s awareness of the contemporary Americentric art world. I, the researcher, identify my subject position as a woman with South Korean roots who has lived and been educated in Canada since childhood. Correspondingly, I may be able to understand the experience of having roots in a non-Western nation with a colonial history, but not the experience of living in one. Therefore, for this case study of Silence of the Sheep, I acknowledge my extent and limitations in identifying with the experience of living in post-colonial Egypt or of having Egyptian identity.[6]

Figure 2. Amal Kenawy, Silence of the Sheep, 2009. Installation view at the 13th Istanbul Biennial, 2013. Performance and video transferred to DVD, PAL, 4:3, 8:51 min. Courtesy The Amal Kenawy Estate and Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts. Photo by Servet Dilber.

The “geo-culture” I refer to, in arguing that a geo-cultural self-consciousness informs the affect of shame for the Silence of the Sheep’s spectators, pertains to the cultural framework in relation to its geographical location.[7] Immanuel Wallerstein explains the term “geo-culture” as an underside of geopolitics that focuses specifically on culture as an area for meaningful human action.[8] The “geo-” part of the word de-emphasises a national or local framework, and favors a geographically broader understanding for which to understand “culture.”[9] As the angry spectators of Silence of the Sheep expressed national shame that is specific to Egypt, this paper will begin by examining the national to ultimately discuss the geo-cultural. Through my focus on the geo-cultural I aim to suggest that the difficult issues discussed in this paper are more involved in a discourse of “the West versus the rest” rather than in discourses pertaining to specific countries. One of the primary difficulties Kenawy faced in her performance was convincing the audience of the social acceptability of her artwork. Kenawy defended herself by explaining her project as a work of performance art, the contextualisation of performance as an art form that engages its audience.[10] She also emphasized that the participation was entirely voluntary. This work, then, can also be understood as a participatory artwork, an art form in which people are the primary artistic medium.[11] Despite Kenawy’s defence, the bystanders were unwilling to accept any excuse for the work’s resultant affective labour, a type of immaterial labour that engenders emotions and affect as opposed to a material good or a manual service.[12] The work was performed on an ordinary day in Cairo, and the immediate viewers were all members of the typical Cairo public, yet the affective labour of the work provoked insecurity about how the piece would be understood by another audience that was not then present.

Figure 3. Amal Kenawy, Still from Silence of the Sheep, 2009. Photo by Shuruq Harb.

This self-conscious insecurity is explained by the relational nature of shame. As Julia Skelly explains, the ashamed or shamed person requires another or an idea of another “before whom she is ashamed.”[13] Sara Ahmed further expounds upon the nature of shame by stating that a subject can feel shame even when alone, in relation to the imagined view of a witness.[14] This self-conscious shame is demonstrated in Silence of the Sheep as the bystanders feel shame in relation to the imagined foreign gaze. Skelly also points to the gendered nature of shame, which is apparent in Kenawy’s work.[15] The crowd of spectators which surrounded the female artist was composed primarily of men, many of whom were vocal. One man called Kenawy a whore.[16] Another man shouted, “Shame on you! Don’t speak!” silencing Kenawy, and denoting a sense of gendered shame towards Kenawy’s inability to fulfill the men’s’ feminine ideals. Kenawy, marching in bold steps as a shepherdess leading the crowd in her short, dyed hair and glamorous sunglasses, who not only occupied but entirely overtook the public street, clearly diverged from the ideals of the domesticated feminine.[17] As Ahmed points out, dissatisfaction with an idealized criteria induces shame.[18] She further explains that national pride is a desire for the nation to appear to fulfill its ideals, and the exposure of its failure is a crucial component of national shame.[19] One commentator who stated, “You brought shame on all of us!” reveals the speaker’s shame for his nation in relation to the West, by whom he assumes this work will be judged. Other similar comments include, “You don’t care about your Egyptian pride?” and “Do you or do you not have to understand from the beginning, rather than giving a bad image to your country?” which confirm the spectators’ self-consciousness rooted in nationalism and geo-culturalism.

Nobody had announced where Silence of the Sheep would be exhibited, yet the concept of performance art itself seemed foreign to the Cairo spectators. When Kenawy defends her intentions for this project, she attempts to explain the nature of performance art, but the Arabic translation for the term was insufficient. An understanding of performance art goes beyond translation — her audience was not familiar with it because it is a Western concept. Kenawy ends up using the example of Egyptian “Aragoz art” to explain performance art to her audience. Aragoz is a wooden glove-puppet character, common in Egyptian folklore and popular culture. Aragoz sketches often criticise corrupt political figures, and are performed in public settings such as streets and cafés.[20] Her comparison helped the crowd understand performance art, but not accept it. The distinction between the two art forms is that in performance art, humans play the roles that puppets hold in aragoz art. To the spectators of Kenawy’s performance, the affective labour performed by their nation’s people was humiliating, whether or not participation was voluntary.

This embarrassed reaction holds a stark contrast to the reactions of Santiago Sierra’s installations, which self-reflexively spotlight the counter-ethics of affective labour. Sierra exploits day labourers to perform menial tasks in a gallery setting for a low wage. To conduct Sierra’s Nine Forms of 100 x 100 x 600 cm Each, Constructed to be Supported Perpendicular to a Wall (2002) (fig. 4) for Deitch Projects in New York City, the gallery had hired participants with a callout for “performers” through an employment agency. The “performers,” however, walked off the job, feeling demeaned once realizing the affective, as opposed to manual, nature of the work. As Jennifer Doyle notes, the affect of Sierra’s works is oriented towards the “guilt-ridden liberal art consumer.”[21] Several of Sierra’s installations with the same theme are executed in galleries and museums worldwide. Through his controversial projects, Sierra critiques the capitalist society that exploits affective labour, particularly in the art world. I contrast Sierra’s work with Kenawy’s to demonstrate that Sierra’s spectators feel guilt, but not the national shame felt by the bystanders of Silence of the Sheep. As Michael Hardt argues, the workings of a capitalist economy in the postmodern world has pushed affective labour to the apex of the labour hierarchy.[22] The issue of capitalist labour conditions that Sierra’s work critiques is strongly associated with the West. I wholly acknowledge that evidence of the “modern” and “capitalistic” cannot be completely intrinsic to the West, because many, if not all nations, have historical evidence for their own origins of capitalistic tendencies.[23] Still, I recognize that Western influence — through allying, trading, colonizing —  cannot be ignored in the official capitalisation of many non-Western nations. Even when Sierra’s installation is executed in a non-Western nation and the non-Western spectator feels shame for their nation’s capitalism, they are not as likely to feel national shame in the same way that Kenawy’s spectators do regarding national political apathy. Since capitalist labour exploitation is not a problem belonging to a single nation, but does have strong ties to Western imperialism, the non-Western nations in which Sierra’s installations occur do not feel primarily accountable.

Figure 4. Santiago Sierra, Photographs from installation Nine Forms of 100 x 100 x 600 cm Each, Constructed to be Supported Perpendicular to a Wall, 2002. Photo courtesy of Deitch Projects.

Unlike Sierra, Kenawy refers to a problem specific to her nation through her work. In June 2009, a few months before Kenawy’s performance piece, an article by Khaled Diab tackled the topic Kenawy addresses — political apathy in Egypt. At the time, Iran’s president — whose political agenda threatened Egypt — was becoming weaker due to peoples’ protests. This was a perfect moment, argues Diab, for Egypt’s government-backed journalists to further undermine the Iranian president. However, journalists and the rest of the Egyptian population remained silent. Possibly, then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak could have discouraged any media activity at all, to avoid the risk of inspiring Egyptian citizens to protest as the Iranian people had. With the then-recent Egyptian election fraud controversy an obvious reason for protest, Diab suggests that encouraging media silence was safer than implementing media action and, in the process of undermining Iran. Judging by the timeframe, Kenawy could have been referring to this incident as an impetus for her work, but she does not state a specific event. Diab’s article uses this discussion of current events as a starting point to discuss Egypt’s political apathy as a pre-existing and ongoing problem. The author names various valid reasons for vocal opposition — socio-economic inequalities, youth unemployment, widespread political marginalisation, and political corruption — that have previously failed to accumulate public momentum. Among several other possibilities for this rampant political indifference, he argues that Egyptian people aim to interact as little as possible with the government and live the best they can outside of political concern, because Egypt had been occupied by foreign rulers, who did not govern for the benefit of the Egyptian people, for over two millennia.[24] Kenawy’s work exposes a problem associated with histories of foreign domination to foreign spectators, and thus reveals how deeply Egypt had been damaged by others. In contrast to Sierra’s installations, Kenawy’s performance piece makes its spectators feel vulnerable.

Egypt continually deals with the vestiges of colonization. The nation has been occupied by Ptolemeic Greece (330-32 BCE), the Roman Empire (32 BCE-395 CE), the Byzantine Empire (395-649), the Arabian Empire (642-1251), Mamaluke (1260-1571), the Ottoman Empire (1517-1798), France (1789-1801), and Britain (1882-1922), until independence was attained in 1936. Aimé Césaire pointedly describes the dynamics between the colonizer and the colonized:

“Between colonizer and colonized there is room only for forced labor, intimidation, pressure, the police, taxation, theft, rape, compulsory crops, contempt, mistrust, arrogance, self-complacency, swinishness, brainless elites, degraded masses. No human contact, but relations of domination and submission which turn the colonizing man into a classroom monitor, an army sergeant, a prison guard, a slave driver, and the indigenous man into an instrument of production. My turn to state an equation: colonization = “thing-ification.”[25]

Egypt pursued a highly anti-colonial nationalist discourse since British colonization in 1882.[26] Anshuman Mondal reminds the reader of the post-structuralist emphasis on the influence of the “other” on the “self”, dispelling the myth of an identity that is independently formed, and arguing for one that is constructed by the influence of others.[27] At the time of Kenawy’s performance work, the Egyptian citizens embodied a national identity rooted in colonial resistance, and thus also embodied the constant presence of another. The Western gaze is so ubiquitous in the contemporary art world that the spectators of Silence of the Sheep did not take the artwork for what it was intended to be — a critical assessment of an aspect of its own culture — but immediately worried about how it would be viewed through the lens of the Western viewer. Instead of othering the West, the members of the Cairo public othered themselves, knowing their place as the “other” in a Western-centric world.

Harb notes that the spectators had further reason to feel insecure if they were likely aware of the international attention Cairo was receiving at the time: most notably, the 25th Alexandria Biennale and an international curatorial workshop organised with the Tate Britain.[28] Such international events, rather than globalising the art world, tend to turn non-Western cultures into pageants.[29] “Globalisation” is a popular term in the 21st-century art world, and the trend that the word defines has led to the rise of internationally recruited artists and critics and global exhibition spaces and biennales.[30] Hamburg-based critic and curator Yilmaz Dziewior notes that particularly since the 1990s, non-Western artists have had a greater presence in mainstream exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale and documenta in Kassel.[31] As demonstrated in the graph “Proliferation of Biennales of Contemporary Art by World Region 1895-2006” (fig. 5), the number of biennales increased in both Western and non-Western locations in the mid-1980s. However, scholars like Wallerstein are skeptical, arguing that it is a presumptuous misconception to believe that globalisation has successfully brought the world closer together.[32] Curator and writer Elsbeth Courth, for example, notes that Western discourses of primitivism still exist in non-Western exhibitions.[33] Western art historical scholarship, which includes cultural appropriation and exoticisation of other cultures still dominates — and with “globalisation” these regressive discourses risk proliferation.[34] Since 1970, the German business magazine Capital published “Kunstkompass” (“art compass”), annual rankings of the top 100 artists with symbolic capital, based on presence and visibility in international exhibitions, institutions, and art magazines. In 2009, the year Silence of the Sheep was executed, Germany ranked first place with twenty-eight artists, the United States came in second with twenty-five artists, followed by the United Kingdom with twelve, then Italy with four, and Switzerland also with four. As Artforum writer Jennifer Allen states, “these figures seem to show no signs of the impact of globalization.”[35] “Kunstkompass” simply quantifies and publishes the context about the art world that the spectators of Silence of the Sheep were already aware of. “The public was offended by the Silence of the Sheep performance, although it basically mirrors what people discuss on a daily basis,” Kenawy told the Egypt Independent; nonetheless, the public’s geo-cultural shame is not as ironic as Kenawy thought.[36]

Figure 5. Chart of the Proliferation of Biennales of Contemporary Art, by World Region 1895-2006. Courtesy of Buchholz and Wuggernig, “Cultural Globalisation Between Myth and Reality.”

The spectators had little confidence in the respect that their nation’s artwork would receive, and justifiably so. Shyon Baumann deconstructs the social processes of artistic legitimation: external legitimacy requires consensus among the general public who are considered art consumers, in the broadest sense of the term; internal legitimacy requires consensus among those more professionally involved in the art world, such as artists, art scholars, and art critics.[37] Baumann argues that Western nations have historically obtained artistic legitimacy through advantageous opportunities, resources, and discourses.[38] Thus, although Egypt has been historically occupied by both Western and non-Western empires, this paper focuses on the role of the Western gaze in the affective responses to Silence of the Sheep because of the West’s — and particularly America’s — iron hold on artistic legitimacy.

Richard Peet describes the symptoms of Americentrism in his article “From Eurocentrism to Americentrism.” Current events, politics, and history prioritizes America; global space is described in terms of Western notions of modernity.[39] He observes that “in this fantasy world, unless events are reported in the US media, they never happen.”[40] Peet argues that Americentrism is more threatening than Eurocentrism due to its subtlety; Americentrism’s conflation of “fatality with fun, Disney with the Defense Department” lacks self-awareness.[41]  Art, I posit, is a type of “fun” that is often conflated with power and capital. As Charlotte Bydler states, the openings of prestigious biennales in Cuba, Korea, or Turkey as a result of the phenomenon of globalisation, did not decenter New York City from the status of contemporary art powerhouse.[42] The world of politics and economy has seen a shift from Eurocentrism to Americentrism, and the art world is an active participant in and agent of this shift since the mid-20th century. In the post-colonial era, one acknowledges that many of the resources, opportunities, and discourses the Western world possess to secure artistic legitimacy have been procured through colonial means. The colonized and non-Western nations then do not, as they cannot, hold as much artistic legitimacy as do Western nations. Egypt is one of many nations in this category, and also deals with the baggage of the colonized.

Silence of the Sheep revealed the Egyptian public’s relationship to performance art as one that is obstructed by Americentric self-consciousness. As Nicolas Bourriaud argued when he coined the term “relational aesthetics,” artwork can be understood in regards to the relationships it delineates, produces, and generates.[43] The artist’s original intention for relationality was to interact with the public about the issue of political apathy, but the ensuing fight became the main interaction. Claire Bishop examines the difficulty of participatory artwork, critically analyzing the narrative of negation that participatory artworks create in order to emancipate the audience from the dominant ideological order and create a space for democratic social engagement.[44] She is critical that participatory artworks either create a utopia of positive aspects or negate the real world’s negative aspects.[45] Neither option is ideal when examined under the positivist sociological approach, one that values demonstrable outcomes. Within a positivist sociological light, Kenawy’s work would be interpreted a failure. Rather, Bishop proposes to assess participatory art as valuable in its own right, view its negation as a tool towards another political project, and direct institutions to support it.[46] While agreeing with Bishop’s proposal in various contexts, I intervene to mention the obstacle that Americentrism creates in the contemporary art world for many artworks, including Kenawy’s, to apply Bishop’s proposition. If participatory artwork is meant to create a democratic space for the spectator, the measure of its fulfillment of its goals should be based on the spectator’s point of view. Bishop herself is critical of the glorification of the solo artist, particularly if it results from works that are meant to be collaborative.[47] Kenawy’s work may have won the Grand Prize at the Cairo Biennale, but I doubt that the angry spectators would feel congratulatory. My point about Kenawy’s award is not to blame or discredit Kenawy, but to critique the Americentric system in which the art world operates. For many non-Western cultures, most of which deal with colonial trauma, accepting a self-aware participatory artwork as valuable in its own right is a privilege they do not have. Direct injuries these cultures would experience include practical concerns such as arrest, as the performers of Silence of the Sheep experienced. Indirect injuries would include mistreatment of an Egyptian person as a result of negative stereotypes, which can snowball into larger problems; an accumulation of negative stereotypes leads to solid prejudice. Following Bishop’s solution for artworks that undergo a shift in purpose or those that push spectator comfort limits — as does Silence of the Sheep — can resolve logical fallacies and theoretically emancipate the spectators; but following it without considering the spectators’ disadvantaged position in the Americentric art world only incarcerates them to political and personal insecurity.

In the “global” contemporary art world, where mobilization is a form of capital, only the privileged benefit.[48]Thus, “globalisation” is alienating to the refugee, the migrant, and the dispossessed.[49] Miwon Kwon urges for cultural practices to demonstrate relational sensibility; to acknowledge the distances between one person, place, or thought next to another.[50] I propose to extend relational sensibility to modes of cultural exposure, such as the production of exhibitions and events, as they largely dictate the spectators’ responsive affects, thoughts, and actions.  While there are various ways this can materialize, I narrow my focus to the efficacies of a top-down approach. A top-down approach in an Americentric contemporary art world entails that the agent taking initiative is the United States of America – especially cities such as New York, Miami, and Los Angeles, considered to be the most influential to the contemporary art world. For instance, Klaus Biesenbach, chief curator of MoMA PS1 in New York City, responds to an interview question regarding his motivations for the 2015 Zero Tolerance exhibition (which features Amal Kenawy’s Silence of the Sheep) by stating that he “feels as if life in cities like Berlin and New York, the two cities I spend most of my life in, are islands in a vast ocean […] all of the freedom we have in these two big cities is not necessarily a given.”[51] The name of the exhibition, Zero Tolerance, takes after New York City’s controversial strict crime policy in the nineties. The exhibition features works by twenty-four artists from all over the world. Amal Kenawy’s participatory performance work is exhibited via video documentation display, which avoids the shortcomings of photography in documenting relational works.[52] The exhibition ties the works together with a unified theme, a less divisive method of exhibiting works than of categorizing by cultures or countries.

While these curatorial methods as well as Biesenbach’s motivations for the exhibition were progressive steps by an influential institution to demonstrate relational sensibility, Zero Tolerance did have room for improvement. Categorizing artworks by theme causes the artworks to become aestheticized rather than politicized as it detracts the significance of individual political contexts.[53] I affirm that I do not consider the aesthetic to be subordinate to the political, but that when a work has caused its spectators negative affect such as shame due to a specifically political aspect, that element must be acknowledged in the curatorial process. In addition, the exhibition could have been more self-critical about its American or Western identity if it had played a part in the political issues that some of the artworks address. This paper has proposed a top-down approach to create practical relational sensibility, as proposed by Kwon, to expose arts and culture, but I acknowledge its risks. Notably, if the “top” institution or curator conducts a relationally sensible exhibition, that institution or curator is likely to be glorified.[54] For example, if Zero Tolerance and Klaus Biesenbach are lionized, the self-consciously ashamed spectators in Kenawy’s artwork become props to glorify an exhibit or a curator. Working in a relationally sensible manner requires more than modesty, and goes even further than humility — relational sensibility involves sensitivity, informed allied activity, self-awareness and self-criticality. This criteria may appear rigorous but is not unjustifiable, as the very premise on which this paper operates is that art is powerful enough to necessitate such rigorous consideration.

[1] Shuruq Harb, “Not So Silent: On Walking and Crawling,” Ibraaz, April 27, 2016,
[2] Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, “To the Street,” Frieze, May 11, 2012,
[3] Shuruq Harb, “Not So Silent: On Walking and Crawling,” Ibraaz, April 27, 2016,
[4] Harb, “Not So Silent.”
[5] Kimberle Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color,” Stanford Law Review (1991), 1241-1299.
[6] Ann Cvetkovich, Depression: A Public Feeling (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012). I identify my subject position in reference to Cvetkovich’s book, in which the author includes her memoir before presenting her research project to deepen the reader’s understanding and encourage criticality about her thought process and arguments.
[7] Immanuel Maurice Wallerstein, Geopolitics and Geoculture: Essays on the Changing World-System (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 11.
[8] Wallerstein, Geopolitics and Geoculture: Essays on the Changing World-System, 12.
[9] Ibid., 11.
[10] Frazer Ward, No Innocent Bystanders: Performance Art and Audience (Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College Press, 2012).
[11] Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (New York: Verso Books, 2012), 1.[12] Michael Hardt, “Affective Labor,” Boundary 2 26, no. 2 (1999), 90.
[13] Julia Skelly, Addiction and British Visual Culture, 1751–1919: Wasted Looks (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2014), 34.
[14] Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion (New York: Routledge, 2013), 105.
[15] Skelly, Addiction and British Visual Culture, 34.
[16] Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, “To the Street.”
[17] Ibid.
[18] Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion, 113.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Nashaat H. Hussein, “The Revitalization of the Aragoz Puppet in Egypt: Some Reflections,” Popular Entertainment Studies 3, no. 1 (2012): 58.
[21] Jennifer Doyle, Hold it Against Me: Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013), 90.
[22] Hardt, “Affective Labor,” 90
[23] Laura Doyle, “Inter-Imperiality: Dialectics in a Postcolonial World History,” Interventions 16, no. 2 (2014): 165-9.
[24] Khaled Diab, “Egypt’s Political Apathy,” The Guardian, June 28, 2009,
[25] Césaire Aimé, Discourse on Colonialism (New York: NYU Press, 2000), 6.
[26] Anshuman A. Mondal, Nationalism and Post-colonial Identity: Culture and Ideology in India and Egypt (London: Routledge Curzon, 2004), 141.
[27] Ibid., 244.
[28] Harb, “Not So Silent.”
[29] Ibid.
[30] Larissa Buchholz and Ulf Wuggenig, “Cultural Globalization between Myth and Reality: The Case of the Contemporary Visual Arts,” Art-E-Fact Strategies of Resistance, Glocalogue, no. 04 (2005): 1.
[31] Yilmaz Dziewior, “On the Move. Interkulturelle Tendenzen in Der Aktuellen Kunst,” in Kunstwelten Im Dialog – Von Gauguin Zur  Globalen Gegenwart, eds. Marc Scheps, Yilmaz Dziewor and Barbara Thiemann (Cologne, Germany: , 1999): 345.
[32] Immanuel Wallerstein, “Globalization Or the Age of Transition? A Long-Term View of the Trajectory of the World-System,” International Sociology 15, no. 2 (2000): 251-267.
[33] Clémentine Deliss, Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa: Whitechapel Art Gallery (London: Flammarion, 1995).
[34] Buchholz and Wuggenig, “Cultural Globalization between Myth and Reality,” 6.
[35] Jennifer Allen, “International News Digest,” Artforum, June 1, 2009,
[36] Mai Elwakil, “Amal Kenawy: Society and the Street,” Egypt Independent, April 1, 2011,
[37] Shyon Baumann, “A General Theory of Artistic Legitimation: How Art Worlds are Like Social Movements,” Poetics 35, no. 1 (2007): 49.
[38] Ibid.
[39] Richard Peet, “From Eurocentrism to Americentrism,” Antipode 37, no. 5 (2005): 938.
[40] Peet, “From Eurocentrism to Americentrism,” 937.
[41] Ibid., 938.
[42] Charlotte Bydler, The Global Art World, Inc.: On the Globalization of Contemporary Art (Uppsala, Sweden: 2004), 266.
[43] Nicolas Bourriaud, Esthétique Relationnelle (Dijon: Presses du réel, 1998), 22-3.
[44] Jacques Rancière, Le spectateur émancipé (Paris, France: Fabrique, 2008). I use the term “to emancipate” in the context provided by Rancière. The emancipated spectator of an artwork is one who escapes the dominant political order through one’s participation in the art and in it has full agency to produce political effects.
[45] Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (New York: Verso Books, 2012), 275.
[46] Ibid., 284.
[47] Ibid., 5.
[48] Ibid.
[49] Miwon Kwon, “One Place After another: Notes on Site Specificity,” October 80 (1997): 110.
[50] Ibid.
[51] Hannah Stamler, “Klaus Biesenbach on “Zero Tolerance,” The Creators Project, November 19, 2014,
[52] Bishop, Artificial Hells, 5. Bishop rejects the use of images alone as documentary material for relational works for its shortcomings in providing complete evidence and full range of affective dynamics. I accede to her critique, but use images to describe Kenawy’s work for the practical purpose of this paper. A link to the work’s video documentation is in the bibliography.
[53] Anwar Batte, “Zero Tolerance,” Art in America, March 18, 2015,
[54] Claire Bishop, “Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics,” October 1, no. 110 (2004), 53.

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