Islam Aly

Islam Aly

How did you become involved in artist’s books?

In the spring of 2000, at the exhibition titled One of a Kind Artists’ Books in Cairo, I saw books unlike any I had ever seen before. They were different in their concepts, structures, techniques, and materials; they were made out of handmade paper, wax, seeds, and metal.

This exhibition was organized by Suzanne Horvitz and Robert Roesch, who also led two workshops in Cairo and Alexandria for young artists. The exhibition was described as the first time an Egyptian audience had experienced a full range of unique artists’ books. Since then I’ve been very interested in exploring the potentials of this fantastic medium.

What is the focus of your practice?

I have always been fascinated and challenged by the book form. The book has always been the main attraction for me, whether old or contemporary. I am always intrigued by the physical properties of the books as well as their content. Witnessing the shifts and changes in what can be identified as the artist’s books has had a compelling impact on my relationship with this flexible and amazing medium.

Examining books in libraries, and galleries plays an influential role in producing my artist’s books. The look and presence of these artefacts is an integral part of my work and is linked to the content and aesthetics. 

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on a new book highlighting the Mediterranean immigrant crisis and the journeys refugees and migrants take crossing borders and seas. In addition, I am working on a series of books that explore Islamic art and design. I want to reveal how patterns develop and morph in books that make the viewer experience their beauty, elegance, harmony, intricacy, and complexity.