Rana Hamadeh’s The Sleepwalkers is a major new commission and the first solo exhibition of the artist in Australia. The filmed play re-dramatises the story of Raya and Sakina, the infamous Egyptian sister serial killers, who in 1921 became the first women to be executed by a legal court in the modern history of Egypt. The two sisters, along with their husbands and two other male accomplices, were found guilty of the murders of 17 women, most of whom were sex workers.
Commissioned by the IMA, Nottingham Contemporary, and The Showroom in London, The Sleepwalkers is the latest chapter in Hamadeh’s long-term project Alien Encounters, and revisits the story of Egyptian serial killers – and sisters – Raya and Sakina. The sisters’ story has variously occupied the postion of dark cautionary tale, social tragedy, and comedic melodrama within Egyptian popular culture. Numerous dramatised books, films, television, and theatre treatments have been produced about their lives and crimes.
Rana Hamadeh is a performance and visual artist from Lebanon based in the Netherlands. Interested in a curatorial approach within her artistic practice, she works on long-term discursive research projects that operate as umbrellas to growing series of sound and text-based performances, cartographic works, stage sets, and writing projects. Selected exhibitions include Nottingham Contemporary, Western Front, Vancouver, TPW, Toronto, Moscow Bienniale, 2015; The New Museum, CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco, EVA International, Limerick, Liverpool Biennial, 2014; Lisson Gallery, London, Beirut, Cairo, Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2013; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2011; and Beirut Art Center, Beirut, 2010. 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.
The project is generously supported by The Mondriaan Fund; The Keir Foundation; The Embassy of the Netherlands, MAAP; and Maria Sukkar. With additional support from B Squared Foundation, Maya Rasamny and Zaha Hadid Foundation.