Blind Ambition

July 21 ,  7:00 pm

All times are listed in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

Hassan Khan

Self Assessment


Curated by Fatma Hendawy


A breeze of silence had seized the city in the morning

Streets are empty as never before, out of fear

Although it was a Friday and morning quietness is not anew

Something in the air is dreary 

A glimpse of hope and freedom was heavily 

making its way through that silence!1


In the year 2012, Egypt faced a great challenge, the attempt to change the political landscape in Egypt from military to civilian. For the first time in decades, if not centuries, the public desired a civilian leader; the image of “the leader as father” was dismantled. Although the elections that year brought the first civil president, they also revealed an extreme social gap between aspects of Egyptian society. The conversation between the different political parties seemed stretched and surreal; there was no logic to follow, but we all embraced the chaos out of hope that it would lead to a healthy political discourse. There were power outages, goods shortages, and instability in every section of the governmental system. These obstacles were a part of a systemic oppression, to silence the public or to provoke them. Regardless, this was a moment of collectiveness that I personally latched onto. 

My generation (born in the 1980s) grew up with either nationalist or capitalist parents, who had witnessed the taking down of a monarchy and two rough wars.2 Our perception of “stability” is extremely distinct from theirs; their generation yearned for a stability that they defined as “no more war”, but we dreamt of it as social justice and freedom of speech. How could these two generations collide without causing a rupture in time and space? 2012 was the year of growth, hope, dreams, expectations, ambition, silence, slowness, an unusual sense of freedom, no police, no stable government, transgression was the norm. As unreal as it seemed, my generation lived that ambition, that we would attain justice, fight corruption, and dismantle oppression. Indeed, we witnessed the first presidential elections since the military took over in 1952,3 yet our ambition is still encapsulated in 2012. 

In Blind Ambition, conversations start and end with no definite context. The conversations are very familiar, ones encountered daily by any Egyptian, ones we generally choose to ignore and pass by. In this film, we slow down, observe, and listen to different layers of the society as the conversations shift from the professional to the banal. Noise is cut out; voices and body language of the narrators are our only clues to perceive fluctuating human feelings and relationships. How do these conversations reflect a social status and how do they form a collective being? How can a crowded public space be silent and yet filled with tension?


Fatma Hendawy


1. On the events of January 28, 2011, in Alexandria, Egypt. Yehia, Fatma. Three Attempts to Escape The Military. Thesis Paper, Master of Visual Studies, University of Toronto. 2020.

2. In the 1967 war, which was triggered by the Suez Canal crisis, Egypt was defeated by the Israel military. The 1973 war ended with Egypt’s victory and reclamation of Sinai and other occupied parts from Israeli troops; later came the Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. 


3. On June 23, 1952, the Egyptian army organized a coup against the monarchy and British colonization. The king of Egypt was exiled, and British colonization ended after 70 years, 1882-1952.

Blind Ambition

Hassan Khan
EGYPT | 2012 | DIGITAL | 46 MIN


Blind Ambition is a film shot with a cellphone featuring 27 actors in nine different episodes that take place at different times of the day in public places across the city of Cairo. Shot in stark black and white and completely silent except for the voices of the actors, it is an attempt to crystallize and suspend an emotional condition that seethes under the surface of a collective, to produce a portrait of selves held together by a fragile intent.

  • Hassan Khan is an artist, musician and writer. Recent solo exhibitions include: Blind Ambition at the Centre Pompidou (2022); The Keys to the Kingdom (2019) at the Reina Sofia, Madrid; and Host at the Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover (2018). Concert appearances include: MAXXI L’Aquila, Aquila; The Louvre Auditorium, Paris; Ruhrtriennale, Essen; Intonal Festival, Malmö; Guggenheim, New York; Maerz Musik, Berlin; DCAF, Cairo; and Portikus, Frankfurt am Main. Khan’s publications include an extensive anthology of his writings, An Anthology of Published and Unpublished Writings (2019),  a novella, Twelve Clues (2016),  a collection of short fiction, The Agreement (2011), amongst others. He has released two albums of original music, Superstructure EP  with The Vinyl Factory, and tabla dubb with 100Copies. Khan is the winner of the Silver Lion at the 2017 Venice Biennale and a Professor of Fine Arts at the Staedelschule in Frankfurt. He lives and works between Cairo and Berlin. 

Co-presented with

  • The Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film
  • Digital Arts Ressource Centre

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  • Canada Council for the Arts
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  • York University School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design
  • 0_TD
  • Digital Arts Ressource Centre
  • The Japan Foundation
  • The Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film
  • CalArts
  • Art Museum

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