The Big O
(This event has passed)

May 9–12, 2016
May 15–19, 2016
May 22–23, 2016
Admission: Public Event

The Big O

Sharjah Art Gallery, AUC New Cairo



May    09-12, 2016.  09:00 a.m. to 04:00 p.m.

May    15-19, 2016.  09:00 a.m. to 04:00 p.m.

May    22-23, 2016.  09:00 a.m. to 04:00 p.m.


Mai Rashdan
Department of the Arts


The Big O is the 2016 senior student exhibition of the Visual Art program at AUC. The exhibition presents twelve projects created through a year-long process that started last semester (Fall 2015, ARTV 4269). The initial research-based process is continued in the spring semester (Spring 2016, ARTV 4270). Here students primarily work toward finalizing their research outcomes into art works. This final production phase, along with the first semester of research, is an integral part of the educational process.

The Big O is climatic point – the end/beginning of a creative production – of stimulation, and the analogy to art seems evident: the transgressive process through which an ultimate level of conceptual and affective satisfaction is achieved.

What lies behind the formation of O? What are the interrelated yet differing components of its final becoming? George Bataille’s perspective on the ontological difference between “continuity” and “discontinuity” is established, for one, within the context of sexuality and death. In Erotism – Death and Sensuality (1957), the similarity between both formations is illuminated by the act of reproduction that creates the transitions from difference to sameness. Nevertheless, there seems to be an endless desire to transform two separate beings into one, a desire to strive from discontinuities to continuity. Orgasm as the sexual climax provides that instant of apparent unity and exaltation in which two separate beings try to become one. The idea of both, creativity and change, emerges temporally from that very moment, which is intensified by the vision of death as the peak of continuity. Creativity then resembles a spatiotemporal dissolution that resists interpretation in its powerful, transgressive nature, being atom-like in its energy and ability to transform matter and materialize transformation.

The Big O contemplates the alleged end of a long pleasurable process as a violation of the familiar by engaging the spectator/beholder to see beyond the visibility of art. The invisible surplus of art hence reveals a perpetual state of desiring the unknown and trying to understand the ambiguities of forms, which uphold, in Susan Sontag’s words, an “erotics of art”. The erratic nature of orgasms, its imaginative force, indicates the relevance of techniques, of the research and process of artistic creativity and productivity as much as the beginning of new experiences and their stimulation of new knowledge – and eventually of other ways of seeing and experiencing the world.

Our new Visual Arts program offers an integrated curriculum within a liberal arts context. It combines an interdisciplinary approach to art in a larger cultural sphere, with tools and methods borrowed from other disciplines such as the sciences, sociology, anthropology and history. The program is oriented toward visual research and production grounded in an exploration of creativity and a critical approach toward art and culture. The current senior year exhibition showcases one of the first and early outcomes of the new curriculum. Students have adopted a process-oriented conceptual approach and developed a variety of visual and performative languages in their multimedia work.