Raya and Sakina are the perpetrators of one of the most heinous murders in modern Egyptian history. The sisters fled Upper Egypt to settle in a slum in the coastal city of Alexandria. They then turned into criminals by murdering women to steal their jewelry through attracting the victims to their home by a false promise to get goods at cheaper prices. Reaching the house, victims were drugged, choked and then buried under the tiles of the house. After committing more than 17 crimes both sisters were arrested and sentenced to death in 1921, which was the first sentence of death in modern Egyptian law issued against women. Contrary to many approaches before – dealing with the crime itself – the artists explores the execution process and sister’s different reaction; “The Silent” Raya Versus the boasted of bravery Sakina thus exploring the possibility of multiple convictions leading to the same act.
The artist explores the story in black and white symbolizing the eternal conflict and interdependence between different beliefs. The space surrounding the characters reflects their spiritual sanctuary and their inner isolation, which fostered alongside monochromatic a state of interaction between subjects and their surroundings. Using seduction, the oldest weapon of the female, in catching their victims, stripped those victims of the characteristic of femininity to leave us in a gray area. The use of clothing creates a symbolic connection to the connected fate of the two sisters, while visual symmetry invites the viewer to focus on the differences between them.
Trust, doubt, belief, the relationship between justification and action and which one precedes the other. Habby is trying to re-identify the indefinable of an old story that today become a part of the modern Egyptian folk.
Raya and Sakina is on show from the 1st November till the 11th January 2018
Omar Donia – MPA