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The video installation Egyptian Chemistry (2012) by the Swiss artist Ursula Biemann is based on videographic field documents and actual water samples taken from numerous sites along the Nile. The project examines water engineering and desert development projects, and the hydraulic, social and chemical conditions of soil and water in Egypt. Water is integral to many fields such as land use politics, crop export, nitrate industries, farmer’s collectives and hydropower; it is the undercurrent that connects the political and nonpolitical practices of Egyptian life. Drawing on the theory and practice of chemistry as a system of internal relations, this aquatic narrative tells multiple stories involving organic, social and technological factors in contemporary Nile ecologies. ‘Egyptian Chemistry’ considers the minute material transformations as a force that drives the construction of our concrete and political reality, and places scientific interest, fieldwork, and videography as practices that produce reality within this process.

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