neil cummings

Lapdogs Script

Lapdogs was installed as part of the exhibition Lapdogs of the Bourgeoisie, at the Arnolfini in Bristol, May 1st 2009, and the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo, November 2008.

Lapdogs storyboard

Lapdogs of the Bourgeoisie: Trailer 4min (approx)

Artist: Abbas  Rahman

Mentor 1: Artist – Lara Baladi
Mentor 2: Art Critic – Tirdad Zolghadr
Mentor 3: Curator – Nav Haq

Theme music: - bold, strident
Off-screen: - noise and shouts of a street scene

Lapdogs shoot

Scene 1: Exterior
Exterior: Typical Cairo street café – men drink coffee and smoke shisha
Fade from black to ABBAS - a café waiter


Meet Abbas Abd Allah, a 31 year old waiter from the town of Embabah

He left school at 12 and is now self employed

He’s about to enter a completely different world

Abbas to camera


I love working in this cafe, it’s just what I do, you know

My Father used to work here too

You know, people come to the cafe tired and hungry

I bring then coffee or tea, and then they are revived, completely different
You know, transformed

Um, a bit like what you’re going to be doing with me

Scene 2: Interior
Interior: Cairo Art Gallery: Trendy glamour, power
Abbas walking (smartly dressed) with MENTOR1: LARA stopping, looking at and discussing artworks.


For the next month, Abbas is aiming to become an international artist
And infiltrate first the Cairo, and then the International Art Scene

Scene 3: Interior
Interior: Abbas’s studio, easel, table chair and studio detritus.
Abbas - scruffy, at easel drawing, looking, painting


He will have to learn how to make art

Abbas at easel


I’m starting to realize, um, it’s starting to feel right!

Scene 4: Interior
Interior: Abbas’s studio, paintings, drawings and art books in shot.
Abbas-scruffy, with work in ‘crit’ situation with


And, he’ll have to learn how to talk about his art.


Do you like this?
Its influenced by Tracy Emin
I’m trying to make it more,…………..’socially engaged’

MENTOR 3: Nav:

Enumerating with his fingers

Never ask if curators ‘like’ the work
Don’t say it's influenced by another artist
And,………it’s not socially engaged

Lapdogs barber scene


Scene 5: Exterior/interior
Interior:  The Barbers; Barber and his shop.
Abbas arrives – scruffy, with Mentor 1: Lara to get a more trendy shave and hair-cut.


He’ll have to look the part, and promote himself

MENTOR 1: artist Lara

It looks really, really good
But we must do something about your hair
It doesn’t lend you enough authority

Scene 6: Interior
Interior: Exhibition/studio setting
Critic MENTOR 2: TIRDAD looking at an example of Abbas’s work.


And take criticism on the chin

MENTOR 2: Tirdad

And that’s it really
Although you have a confident sense of colour, there is really no market for this
You might as well take it down, and set it on fire.

You’d better start again

Scene 7:
Night-time travel dissolve to ‘hip’ Cairo gallery
Interior: a gallery exhibition Private View- glamour, drink and stylish crowd. Abbas - very smart. Team of three ‘top’ critics (the judges) looking at Abbas’s ‘work’


If he gets through all that

He’ll have to exhibit in an exhibition alongside four other established artists

At a hip Cairo Gallery,

And his work will be assessed and judged, by top art critics.

Interior: Private view three critics – close-up of conversation


And so, what was you intention with that?

Scene 8: Exterior
Cut to Abbas back at work in the street cafe


Will they spot him as a fake?

Aiding and abetting the wannabe Picasso, are three mentors from the international artworld

Scene 9:
Whip-pan to locations of power-dressed Mentors in their professional location
Mentor 1: Lara in studio


Artist Lara Baladi has an international reputation

She’s Lebanese and lives in Cairo

Scene 10: Interior
Office: Mentor 2: Nav power-dressed, on the phone


Nav Haq the rising star of the curatorial scene,

that everyone dreams of working with.

Scene 11: Interior
Chic office: Mentor 3: Tirdad power-dressed, at desk with laptop


Curator and renowned critic Tirdad Zolghadr writes for Frieze

The biggest international art magazine

Scene 12: Interior
Mentor 3 :Nav

MENTOR 3: Nav:

I really think this is an enormous challenge

We shouldn’t underestimate how difficult this is going to be

Scene 13: Exterior
Exterior: Abbas in street café


Will they succeed?


I don’t ever do anything to fail
And I don’t want to let myself,………. or my family down.

Roll Lapdog end-credits

Peruse a publication of the project published by Sternberg Press, or see the Lapdogs project page.