new-york

Brian Conley, Cairo Oblique (detail), 2014, eighty ink-jet prints, each 24 x 36".

Brian Conley

Pierogi

Brian Conley, Cairo Oblique (detail), 2014, eighty ink-jet prints, each 24 x 36".

On March 28, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi won his second term as Egypt’s president in an absurdist victory for Western-style democracy: The counterrevolutionary strongman garnered 97 percent of the vote in what was essentially a one-man race. Three days later, San Francisco–based artist and educator Brian Conley’s solo exhibition of photographs, “Cairo Oblique” (in which Sisi’s mug is a recurring motif), opened at Pierogi. Egypt receded from the international news cycle long ago, so why this exhibition would appear in as navel-gazing a city as New York was puzzling. Why would anyone care?

I myself cared: I lived and worked in Cairo for six years, and in 2013 I saw Conley give a four-hour talk at the now-defunct art space Beirut. Conley’s engagement with Egypt was somewhat more penetrating than that of the average parachuting artist; he made several trips before and after the revolution,

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