The Mosaic Rooms opens the first UK solo exhibition by Mahmoud Khaled

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The Mosaic Rooms opens the first UK solo exhibition by Mahmoud Khaled
Mahmoud Khaled, Still life (notes on justice). Courtesy of the artist and Gypsum Gallery.

LONDON.- The Mosaic Rooms presents Fantasies on a Found Phone, Dedicated to the Man Who Lost it, the first UK solo exhibition by Mahmoud Khaled. Through a series of unfolding installations and interventions Khaled builds an immersive environment. He ambitiously transforms The Mosaic Rooms period, domestic architecture into the imagined dwellings of the owner of a lost phone. The work continues Khaled’s interest in historic house museums and the nostalgia and memorialising of individual perspectives found in them. In this new commission the artist repositions this museological form in a contemporary queer lens to explore male identity and intimacy. The artist notes: “the exhibition is a spatial portrait of an absent person revealed through the (quite strange) contents of the phone he left behind in a public bathroom. A mysterious portrait of a man with a passion for ‘décor’ and beauty, a highly eroticised man, afflicted with anxiety, insomnia, and melancholy at the same time.”

The narrative structuring of the space and title is inspired by 19th Century artist Max Klinger’s etching series Paraphrase on the Finding of a Glove. In this sequence of images Klinger finds a glove of a woman who he becomes obsessed with. Throughout the etchings, this intimate object triggers visions of longing and loss, conveyed through dreamlike distortions and jarring juxtapositions.

Khaled looks at this tension between desire and anxiety, dream and reality. He focuses on sleeplessness as a metaphor for political states of being, of not belonging, of being displaced. This sense of disquiet is experienced in the installation as we are aware of both the intimacy and artifice of the spaces. The visitor, as a voyeur, simultaneously feels at home and unsettled, and this state of sleeplessness permeates the space.

Calm sees the main room covered in draped velvet and voile curtains, with a daybed in the middle of the room. This piece of furniture conjures references to Freud, and his work ‘The interpretation of dreams’. However, the proportions of this piece are disproportionately long, lying on it one would immediately feel discomfort and apprehension. A sound piece also plays which subverts the form of popular sleep apps, mimicking their tones and auditory patterns but disrupting their intent by provoking emotions which prevent sleep.

The basement room presents For Those Who Can Not Sleep, featuring a rotating leather bed in perpetual motion. The object is a reference to Hugh Hefner’s iconic 1960s office-bed which became a pervading image of heterosexual masculinity in a domestic space. This round bed also became an appropriated design depicted in Egyptian TV and cinema, which the artist grew up watching. The circular surround framing the bed features one of the etchings from Klinger’s series, and there is a looping soundtrack of discordant melodies.

While the phone or indeed its owner are never seen in the exhibition, the location of its loss is known, and photographs from it are presented in an accompanying publication. The compulsive mass of images references the cognitive dissonance and voyeurism experienced with constant scrolling through social media and swiping in dating apps. The bedroom, a space of comfort and safety, becomes infiltrated by contemporary hyper-capitalist forces of productivity and technology.

Khaled was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and currently works in Berlin. His practice is both process oriented and multidisciplinary, can be regarded as formal and philosophical ruminations on art as a form of political activism, and a space for critical reflection. He has presented in international solo shows and group shows such as Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn (2019), Witte de With, Rotterdam (2018), Istanbul Biennale (2017), Sharjah Bienniale (2017), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2016).

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