​​Kinship
2024, Edition of 40 and five proofs.


"Kinship" is an artist's book that delves into the relationship between colonial and colonized artifacts, exploring their cultural and historical context. The project underscores the significance of repatriation as a crucial measure for safeguarding cultural heritage.

The project unfolds in various components, housed within a large box reminiscent of museum displays, featuring three distinct compartments. The initial section comprises a series of boxes, culminating in a covered box containing books featuring quotes from "The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant," a work dating back to the Middle Kingdom (2040-1750 BCE). This narrative portrays a peasant's appeal to the Chief Steward of the crown after being robbed, addressing themes of social and divine justice. Accompanying the tale are ten hieroglyphic symbols symbolizing protection, prosperity, life, and land.

The second part of the project presents slides featuring quotes expressing individuals' reactions to the return of artifacts, emphasizing the importance of repatriation. On the back, a colonial map of Africa, one of the most looted continents, is displayed.

In the third compartment, ten distinct hieroglyphic symbols are intricately cut into wood, creating negative spaces reminiscent of amulets found in ancient Egyptian tombs. Here, the absence of these amulets is portrayed rather than their presence, weaving a symbolic narrative within the artistic composition.

"Kinship" aims to engage viewers in a reflective exploration of the intricate interplay between artifacts, their historical context, and the ethical considerations surrounding repatriation. The project seeks to foster a deeper understanding of the cultural and historical implications inherent in such endeavors.

Special thanks to the Book/Print Artist/Scholar of Color Collective for supporting the project through a Member Project Grant, and to the College Book Art Association (CBAA) for their support with the CBAA Member Support Grant.

Islam Aly