Currelley’s Afreet, or: the Qufti Strike

عفريت كرلي أو الإضراب القفطي

This art project examines the colonial history of the Royal Ontario museum’s Ancient Egyptian collection using autobiographical accounts of the museum’s founder, Charles Trick Currelly, and covertly scanned 3d models of exhibited objects.

It bases its narrative around two excerpts from Currelly’s 1956 autobiography, in which his archeological expedition in the southern city of Quft was impeded when local labourers were forewarned of its dangers by a decades-old magical prophecy and the vision of an ‘afreet‘, a trickster spirit. Rather than regarding this disruption as a form of ignorance or superstition, this interactive animated work re-casts the historical event as a form of organized labour action, an anti-colonial strike set in motion by the combined efforts of humanity and djinns.

In this interactive painted- and laser-cut artwork, the afreet mischievously intervenes upon the museum’s exhibited objects, bringing the ancient labourers to life so they, like those in Currelly’s narrative, can lay down their tools and rest.

Project Documentation

Documentation of Currelleys Afreet, showing the animated, laser-cut and electronic components