RABBET MANZEL // HOUSE GODDESS
VISUAL ARTS, EMBROIDERY, PRINTMAKING
WORK IN PROGRESS // 2022 - ONGOING
> Exhibitions & Events:
upRising Up Festival, Puglia, Italy (2022), Cairo Contemporary Dance Center (2023)
Inspired by Louise Bourgeois’ ‘Femme Maison,’ I question what it is to be a home in motion; to have a home in a body, and a body in a home. I tuck away my profession as a dancer and embrace being an undercover housewife; sans house, sans spouse. And so, I place my body as a pillar for traditional Egyptian mud houses whose architecture and design inspired the work of renowned architects Hassan Fathy and Ramses Wissa Wassef. With Bourgeois from France and Fathy and Wassef from Egypt, I draw a figure that brings together my personal and cultural juxtapositions.
The process was prompted by my Egyptian ID documents listing my occupation as ‘housewife’. Having completed my university studies in Montreal, I had to go through a headache of paperwork to prove that I have a university degree. I asked the officer to list me as uneducated to save myself the trouble. She asked me if I wanted to be listed as ‘housewife’ instead of as ‘uneducated’, I said sure.
I embrace this fictional occupation as a prompt to reflect on my role as a dancer and how it is often perceived in Egypt; a place where I am reluctant to disclose my actual profession due to societal and political concerns. It is an opportunity to make amends with a place where my light shines the brightest, in all colours, except black and white.
Rabbet Manzel // House Goddess is an art series I had the opportunity to exhibit at upRising Up, a local community outdoor art festival in Puglia, Italy in July 2022. The exhibition featured the early stages of research and took place in parallel to a dance solo I presented there titled Monday or Tuesday. The exhibition featured 5 pieces of cotton and linen embroideries, 11 paintings using watercolours, ink and pastels, as well as monotype and linocut prints.
By repeating the motif of Rabbet Manzel // House Goddess I meditate on the homes I keep leaving and returning to, my body being one of them. In performing domesticity, I come to admit that one of my dreams is to simply be a woman with a house of her own.
PHOTO BY: Mireille Magrissy / IMAGE 02 & 07: from the book “Hassan Fathy dans son temps” edited by Leïla El-Wakil
Mona El Husseini is a dancer and visual artist, based between Montreal and Cairo. She completed her dance education at the Cairo Contemporary Dance Center (CCDC) in Egypt and studied International Business and Contemporary Dance at Concordia University.
Mona choreographs and performs her own artistic projects, she collaborates with other artists as a choreographer and performer, and she also teaches contemporary dance, barre, and pilates. Her pieces have been performed in Egypt, Germany, Italy, and Canada.
At the time of writing, Mona is working on Creatrix, a dance duet with her mother, and on Family Portraits, a visual art series and a graphic memoir set to premiere at the MAI (Montréal, Arts Interculturels) in 2023. She is also developing Monday or Tuesday, a dance solo, and Rabbet Manzel // House Goddess, a visual art series - both of which were presented at upRising Up festival in Puglia, Italy, in 2022.
In 2018, Mona had a performing role in When Arabs Danced, a TIFF- and FIFA-featured documentary film by Jawad Rhalib, and in 2022, she was the lead actress in ‘Gigi’ and in ‘Mango’, two short films by director Randa Ali. That same year she choreographed ‘Mama,’ a theatre piece by Nathalie Doummar, which was presented at Théâtre Duceppe and at Festival Juste Pour Rire in Montreal.
Mona is the current recipient of the Conseil des Arts de Montréal (CAM) + Montréal, Arts Interculturels (MAI) Alliance joint support program.
In her artistic process, Mona goes beyond dance and traces the thread that connects the different art forms she practices including martial arts, visual arts, and writing. She is interested in how stories are transmitted, shared, and told through the body across generations. She finds the dance in the encounter between the intimate and the collective, the traditional and the contemporary, and in the space where the inner and outer meet.