Hassan Khan

The Slapper and the Cap of Invisibility, 2015
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

In Hassan Khan’s multifaceted oeuvre, the cultural artifact (be it music, film, text or object) is continuously challenged. He sets seemingly familiar objects and subjects in dialogue with highly personal references, often left undisclosed, thus exploring the continuous shift between the personal and the formal. Oscillating between the individual and the communal, between the hidden and the revealed, his work reflects the immaterial charge of objects, gestures, and collective moments, as well as the monumental scale of history and culture.

Fascinated by Egyptian comedy and its ability to produce a language that is haunted by drives, compulsion and fears, Hassan Khan’s recent film, The Slapper and the Cap of Invisibility, features performances by Ismail Yassin, the iconic 1950s comedy superstar, and Tewfiq El Deqn, character actor par excellence. Their repertoire of gestures, nervous tics, physical contortions, and voices are the raw material, the building block for a situation that we gradually piece together, as we slowly sink into the intensely personal vernacular of their universe. There, we encounter Yassin and El Deqn’s understandings of what they, as flawed exemplars, are supposed to be.