Noha Mokhtar


Noha Mokhtar

Photo research 'Al Fassad / La Corruption'
Video 'El Hob wal Melh / Amour et sel'


Jury report

An Intelligent Puzzle
Noha Mokhtar, a young na­tive of Lau­sanne, has won the Swiss Fed­eral De­sign Award 2012 for two pro­jects: with the video work 'El Hob wal Melh / Amour et sel' and the pho­to­graphic se­ries 'Al Fas­sad / La Cor­rup­tion'. The two pro­jects also served as her grad­u­a­tion pro­ject - she grad­u­ated from the ECAL as a vi­sual de­signer in 2011.
The video pro­ject was based on two ob­ser­va­tions: the tele­vi­sion stands in the cen­tre of every Arab liv­ing room - which is also the most im­por­tant room in the house and the room where one re­ceives guests and dis­plays ones wealth. A great deal of care is gen­er­ally taken with the in­te­rior decor of this salon. Every last de­tail of the grand fur­nish­ings and dec­o­ra­tions is com­posed, in such a way that one is forced to ask whether any­one can ac­tu­ally live in such a room or whether it is sim­ply a show­case.
The cam­era is trained on a scene show­ing on the tele­vi­sion screen. An Ara­bian soap opera with his­tor­i­cal and po­lit­i­cal over­tones is show­ing. Sub­ti­tles help the viewer to un­der­stand the drama. A woman and a man are play­ing a scene in a grand, op­u­lent space. The cam­era leaves the tele­vi­sion, swing­ing to the right; the pic­ture slowly changes from a fic­tional liv­ing room to the real liv­ing room in which the cam­era is lo­cated. The sound­track and the sub­ti­tles con­tinue as the cam­era slowly pans 360 de­grees to show the fur­nish­ings of the room. This causes the line be­tween re­al­ity and doc­u­men­tary to be­come blurred; it is easy to for­get that the pro­tag­o­nists are not ac­tu­ally stand­ing be­hind the cam­era, and that the scene is still sim­ply show­ing on the TV.
In the pho­to­graph se­ries 'Al Fas­sad / La Cor­rup­tion', Noha Mokhtar looks at the in­te­ri­ors and ex­te­ri­ors of Egypt­ian so­ci­ety - its or­na­ments and façades - ob­serv­ing how Egypt pre­sents it­self to the out­side world. The pho­tog­ra­pher jux­ta­poses film sets, new palace build­ing sites and ruins in Cairo. How­ever, this is not purely a doc­u­men­tary pro­ject: she mixes views of ar­chi­tec­ture with artis­tic pic­to­r­ial com­po­si­tions as­sem­bled from fab­rics and pat­terns, with al­most sculp­tural Kleenex boxes and plas­tic stucco. Both works give us a glimpse of an as­pect of the Mid­dle East usu­ally hid­den from us, and re­veal that Noha Mokhtar knows how to as­sem­ble an in­tel­li­gent puz­zle.


Noha Mokhtar
Born in