“My collages don’t take themselves too seriously. They look at the world with humour and a sense of wonder.”
Born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, Beya Khalifa weaves together different, and often absurd, worlds with the use of collage – digital and physical. Her collages serve as a visual examination of the human condition and its relation to the universe, often through quirky or satirical narratives. Her work exists in a perpetual state of surrealism and phantasmagoria, almost like a daydream come to life. Beya’s collages utilize antique photographs layered under digital graphics to combine kitsch, orientalism, fantasy and history into a seamless investigation of the absurdity of daily life.
Representing the jarring dichotomy some Arabs struggle with in terms of identity fragmentation, her recent work has diverged and is now split between Western and Arab aesthetics and issues.
Think of each collage as a portal into a multitude of worlds: surreal, phantasmagorical, and in a bizarre sense, reflective of the world we are currently living in. In each collage, characters prod their way as giants or as lilliputian through space and earthly terrain, subverting traditional power dynamics between man and nature – and between man and man.
Some collages demonstrate the grand and the universal, while others more specifically try to reconcile the past with the present, as is the case with the ‘Orientalism’ series. In it, we see historic photographs of various Middle Eastern tribes and cultures collaged with ancient geometric patterns found throughout the Middle East, critically touching on themes of orientalism, identity and post-colonialism in surreal and whimsical settings.