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Dikotomous: Femmes Fatales

Conor Sheils sits down with edgy artist Kenzie Kingman - one half of duo Dikotomous - to find out more about their latest racy exhibition at Alchemy.

Cairo artists tend to fall into tired stereotypes based around jaded revolution-centric imagery or just plain old, self-indulgent narcissistic tripe.

However Kenzie Kingman - one half of all female art duoe Dikotomous, alongside Dominique Mahoney - is actually attempting to cut through the bullshit and delving into the tabooos of Cairo society. "Our inspiration is the seedy underbelly, the sex, the drugs, the alcohol - I prefer pop art while Dom is more inclined to focus on surrealism," she's happy to explain.

"We started out doing pop culture images and basically recreating them in our own style - a real glimpse of Cairo life," she continues. Looking around Alchemy, where their exhibition runs until the end of the month, it becomes clear that Kingman and Mahoney are not ones to mince their words. “My favourite painting on display is Diamonds and Thieves - a piece inspired by two-faced elements in society while Drunk Driving features a drunk driving scene ending in a three in the bed romp.” However, Kingman admits that the pairs' controversial style has caused ripples in Egyptian society. 

"In Egypt our style has led to many different highs and lows. For example we got dropped by our first gallery because our style was just too scandalous. It was an old school gallery, very traditional. I think they took us on because they wanted to be a little younger, fresh and cool - but I think we were just a tad too fresh!" she remembers.  "They committed that within six months they were going to show our stuff but the month before they came to see it and in the end they gave us sideways excuses and said that it wouldn’t be possible."

"We found a gallery which eventually would show our stuff but even then it was a case of censor, censor, censor," she says, quite unsurprisingly. Meanwhile, Kenzie has her own ideas on what makes art successful in Egypt. "I think galleries want art that sells for family homes, they need it to be very tame. Imagine you have your inlaws or the guy fixing the washing machine and there is a picture of a girl with her boobs out - it's awkward!" she laughs.

Nevertheless, this hasn't stopped the girls from making it big in Egypt. "However, we've sold about 70% of our stuff - our average client is young professional or young bachelor." And now the unstoppable duo are ready to take the world by storm. "I'm moving with my fiancé to Cincinnati where I hope to further my career and Dominique is going to London to work with Kurt Evil. We're each trying to find our own path."

"To do art exhibitions in Egypt is just not that financially sustainable - and we are both in that point in our lives where we need to make that happen. However we hope to work together soon here in Egypt and possibly create pop up art events. Last year for Ramadan we did an 'Art Fast'. basically neither Dom nor I are religious or fasting so we decided too spend 30 days continiously creating art. That was amazing so we'd really like to hold similar events here again."

Wherever they end up, Kingman is adament that their ethos will stay the same: "We won't tone it down - We never going to change."

Catch Dikotomous' exhibition at Alchemy until the end of May. Find out more about Alchemy here.