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Media | The Sleepwalkers

Exhibition Title:

The Sleepwalkers

Exhibition Dates:

20 February–30 April 2016

Exhibiting Artists:

Rana Hamadeh

Curated By:

Aileen Burns & Johan Lundh

Rana Hamadeh, The Sleepwalkers (2016), film still. Courtesy the artist.

Rana Hamadeh, The Sleepwalkers (2016), film still. Courtesy the artist.

Rana Hamadeh, The Sleepwalkers (2016), film still. Courtesy the artist.

Rana Hamadeh, The Sleepwalkers (2016), film still. Courtesy the artist.

Press Release:

Commissioned by the IMA, Nottingham Contemporary, and The Showroom in London, The Sleepwalkers encompasses a film-play, scenography, and glossary.

The work re-dramatises the story of Egyptian serial killers—and sisters—Raya and Sakina. In 1921 they became the first women to be executed by a legal court in the modern history of Egypt. The two women, along with their husbands and two other male accomplices, were found guilty of the murders of seventeen women, most of whom were sex workers. Known simply as Raya and Sakina, the sisters’ story has variously occupied the position of dark cautionary tale, social tragedy, and melodrama within Egyptian popular culture. Numerous books, films, television, and theatre treatments have been produced about their lives and crimes, transforming them into the archetypes of female monstrosity.

Through the erasure of the narrative in The Sleepwalkers, Raya and Sakina are explored as a structural dramaturgical framework through which issues pertinent to Egypt and the broader Arabic context can be addressed. This includes considerations of the history of the gendering of the justice system and the protracted ‘state of emergency’. The work’s abstract and non-linear script, its dissonant audio track, and the constant shifting of its characters re-choreographs the power-relations between the persistent image of the female monster, the figure of the state, and colonial violence.

Notes to the Editor

Rana Hamadeh lives and works in Rotterdam. Selected exhibitions include Nottingham Contemporary, 2015; CCA Wattis Institute, EVA International, KIOSK (solo), 2014; Lyon Biennale, The Lisson Gallery, Beirut (Cairo), Witte de With, 2013; Townhouse Gallery, 2012; Van Abbemuseum, 2011; Beirut Art Center, 2010; The New Museum, 2009. Hamadeh graduated cum laude in 2009 with an MFA from the Dutch Art Institute/ArtEZ, and is currently auditing within the Curatorial Knowledge PhD programme at Goldsmiths University, London.

Since its establishment in 1975, the IMA has been a leading venue for the production, presentation, and circulation of contemporary art in Australia;

The IMA focuses on commissioning new works by Australian and international artists at pivotal points in their practices, and connecting underrepresented artists with wider audiences;

The IMA is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, and from the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts, and through the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian Federal, State, and Territory Governments. The IMA is a member of Contemporary Art Organisations Australia (CAOs);

For more information about Rana Hamadeh’s The Sleepwalkers, or for access to high res images, please contact IMA Communications Officer, Nadia Buick, at, or call +61 (0)7 3252 5750.


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