Egyptian-American installation and display artist Sarah Shannon just installed 3,500 books on a wall in Maison 69 creating a dreamy 'Floating Books Wall'.
What happens when you combine your love for books and travel with art? You get a floating books wall on the staircase of Maison 69 by the uniquely talented installation artist Sarah Shannon.
Held in captivity by tedious computer work that the world of architecture had confined her to, Shannon quickly cut herself loose and dived into the experiential world of interactive art installations and window displays at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. “Architecture was not as quick and fulfilling as window installations where I could design and sketch an idea and have it completed within weeks or months,” Shannon tells us.
While in the U.S, she worked on window displays for renowned clothing brand Urban Outfitters. But after several years, Shannon felt that her work might be more beneficial for the motherland of Egypt.
Feeding her creative impulses and her innate love for books and reading, Shannon returned to Cairo and took to the walls of Maison 69, an open retail space dedicated to art, fashion, and design, creating what she calls The Floating Books Wall. From literature, to self-help, encyclopaedias, and books about plants, Shannon smothered the wall with hand picked books creating an interactive tessellation-like arrangement full of momentous knowledge and tales.
With a love of being amongst people and working with her hands, Shannon spent four months on site at Maison 69 where she dedicated each day to complete the installation. She collected about 3,500 books from the Azbekeya Book Market. Each book was carefully hand picked along with the pictures, the dedications, and hand written memories found in each one, and then displayed accordingly. “I don’t even know the people in these books! But I found myself looking at their pictures and imagining what their lives would have been like,” she tells us.
She also completed the installation of a second artistic treasure called The Wall of Curiosities. “I walked around all in the markets of Cairo, I'd go to Friday markets every week to find weird objects I had never seen before,” Shannon recounts. After collecting the ‘weird’ antiquities from the markets, Shannon began to place them onto one wall creating a solitary monochromatic sensation.
Photo by Dina Samahy
“After I finished this wall, people were asking me about the weird pieces in it, and I was able to tell them the story of what it was and where I got it from… I was able to display these antiquities in a new context that people had not seen before,” Shannon explains.
Firmly believing that Cairo has the potential to house her artistic spurs, Shannon plans to continue on creating display installations around the city in search for her creative fulfilment.
Main image by Remon Elmarkiz.