• Monograph: Ali Labib Gabr and the Decolonization of Architecture
    Yasmine El Rashidi

Yasmine El Rashidi, “Ali Labib House at 25 Abou El Feda, Zamalek,” Cairo, 2018. Digital photograph. Courtesy the artist

This first-ever open-archive exposition of Egypt’s pioneering modernist architect Ali Labib Gabr (1898–1966), shifts and resituates the canon of architectural history and conversation towards an axis of the Global South. Gabr was the first dean of Cairo University’s Architecture School and a regular participant to international modernist conferences. Having studied in England, he brought back to Egypt a radically new way of thinking about buildings and design. Departing from the dominant European Beaux-Arts architecture that flourished under colonial rule, Gabr imploded ideas of what a building—even a mosque—could be. Clean lines, perfect curves, minimalism with attention to spatial poetics. Appropriating from modernist, art deco, and the coveted proportions of Renaissance grandeur, Gabr became one of the most sought-after architects in Egypt at his time. Future iterations of this work will be realized with historian Seif El Rashidi. Monograph is an extensively documented deep dive into Gabr’s work,piecing together a visual and historic portrait of a free-thinking Middle Eastern architect who played a pivotal role in changing Cairo’s urban identity.

Yasmine El Rashidi is an Egyptian writer and critic. Her work is preoccupied with the intersection of urban space, memory, and the archive. She writes about arts and politics for The New York Review of Books and is an editor of the Middle East culture journal Bidoun. The author of several books including Chronicle of a Last Summer, A Novel of Egypt (Penguin Random House, 2016), her essays have been widely published including in ArtforumThe New York TimesThe Architectural Review, and in publications through San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, New Museum, and Sharjah Art Foundation. El Rashidi was a visiting professor at Princeton University, and a fellow at Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts; the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers; and Columbia University’s Institute of Ideas and Imagination. She is a committee member of Gypsum Gallery’s Bursary Prize. She lives in Cairo.