Born in 1972, Maha Maamoun lives in Cairo. Through her work Maamoun questions social conditioning, in the dominating and restricting forms it can take. Achieved primarily through the medium of video and photography, her work explores the urban topography of her home city Cairo, and the the paraphernalia used as part of the religious and political expression within Cairo. In doing so, she draws attention to the contradictory layers of repression and desire that lie within the topography of her surroundings. The way that Maamoun captures these contradictory images allows different audiences to see familiar images in a new and insightful way, their experience of her work affected by their own personal background.
The Visiting Arts international residency scheme offers opportunities for artists to come to the UK, develop their artistic process and engage in an exchange between the invited artist, the host organistaions, the local environment and artists. Maha Maamoun produced a new video piece for Retake that was very much informed by her experiences of undertaking a residency in a foreign country.
Central to the work she has developed are her responses to the way in which Arabs and Muslims have been portrayed in the British media as objects of fear or, at best, curiosity. As Tom Hickey has pointed out, this is nothing new, although resurgence of Western interest in the Middle East has brought this sharply into focus. This pattern has been repeated historically from the writings of T. E. Lawrence to those of Samuel Huntingdon, and from the Orientalist images of ‘Terrible Turks’ in the 19th Century to those of national resistance today.