art of resistance, Egypt

Cairo Divided: The Escape of the Elites.

Jason Larkin is a photographer that keeps on “producing” great work. He is internationally recognised for his long-term social documentary projects, environmental portraiture and landscape reportage. For me, it’s mostly his work in and around Egypt that keeps me excited. He did a wonderful series Past Perfect, photographing the museums of Egypt. By deciding how the past is presented and memorialised, museums not only preserve the past, they also play an important role in the construction of our ideologies, identities and the understanding and interpretation of ourselve.  That is why Past Perfect was Larkin’s way of revealing one more layer of Egypt’s identity. In Suez: A Life Line, Larkin captures the importance of the Suez canal,  a 192 km passage dividing Africa from the Middle East and a crucial source of income and foreign exchange for Egypt. Larkin’s Egyptian project I wish to focus on today is Cairo Divided.

Artist statement:

From a population of one million at the beginning of the 20th Century to over 18 million today, Cairo’s expansion has been rapid. Most capitals are magnets, but the speed with which the Egyptian one has grown in the last century is testament to both its remarkable centripetal power and surrounding vacuum of opportunity.

cad

For centuries, Cairo’s growth has been checked by geography, bounded by a narrow strip of fertile, Nile-irrigated land, with nothing but desert beyond. Now, faced with the city’s barely contained chaos and alarmed by the growing slums, Cairo’s elites have begun to dream of escape. Along the Ring Road, billboards advertise exclusive new private developments – Utopia, Dreamland, Palm Hills, Belle Ville and The Egypt of My Desires. Cairo’s future, it seems, lies outside the city’s boundaries, in the desert, where it can be built from scratch.

ca2

Drawn in to these vast spaces, and surrounded by the drone of construction, I was mesmerised by the exposed layers of new urban centers being developed among the desert dunes. In focusing on these landscapes I wanted to capture the reality of fantasy lifestyles in mid-production, to document the extravagance of a few whose wealth put sharp focus on the fact that 40% of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day.

ca3

The surreal remodeling of the landscape shows little appreciation for the environment it is rapidly colonising. From the decisions of a few, Cairo is morphing its periphery into its core whilst condemning the previous centre to a life on the margins. I felt witness to a mass exit strategy taking shape, and with the camera, recorded the foundations of abandonment in pursuit of self-interest and exclusive isolation.

ca5

ca6

ca7

/all photos © Jason Larkin/

For more on this project and Larkin’s other projects, visit his official website.

Standard
art of resistance, Egypt

Picture Egypt.

Picture Masr (Egypt) is a tumblr page run by Mohamed Elshahed. He wishes to present “Egypt (mostly Cairo) beyond your Google image search results. The beauty of everyday life and all that is ordinary.” No pyramids, no camels, and no sphinx here.

tumblr_mz72jzBU241ra19oeo1_1280

tumblr_m6ejm6Go871ra19oeo1_1280

tumblr_m6msttM7xB1ra19oeo1_1280

tumblr_mz5k3gcjNA1ra19oeo1_1280

tumblr_mujz6aMajP1ra19oeo1_1280

tumblr_mzb0o342AX1ra19oeo1_1280

tumblr_mpkt3s1JBY1ra19oeo1_1280

/all photos © Mohamed Elshahed/

Elshahed also runs Cairobserver. For more on him and his projects, read an interview on Mashallah News. For more on Picture Masr, got to tumblr.

Standard
art of resistance, Egypt

Capturing change: From mistress of Cairo to Martyrs of the revolution.

Denis Dailleux is a French photographer, but first of all and above all – he’s a true Cairo lover. His unique portraits of Cairo (and Egypt in general) are always a magical journey when you go through them.

Egypt had changed a lot from the first photos Dailleux took there, and I think those changes are best seen when you compare, when you confront them. That is what I want to do now.

First, here are the photos from Dailleux’s series Egypt , taken mostly between 2002 and 2005, some even earlier, in the 90’s.

The artist statement:

Between Denis Dailleux and Cairo, it is a true love story : on one side, an insatiable fascination for this unique place, its mood, its magical lights and an unspeakable tenderess towards its inhabitants ; on the other, a natural generosity, a city which offers itself to this subjugated look, inhabitants full of spontaneous kindness. Denis Dailleux makes regular trips to Cairo, in an obsessive way.

i (1)

i (2)

i (3)

i (5)

i (6)

i (7)

i (8)

i (9)

i (10)

i (18)

i

i (11)all images © Denis Dailleux

Second Dailleux’s work I want to put a focus on is his 2013-2014 series – Martyrs of the revolution. 

Artist statement:

Through these photographs, Denis Dailleux pays tribute to the martyrs, these men and women – often young – who lost their lives during the Egyptian revolution of 28 January 2011, victims from the violence of the police and the pro-Mubarak militia.

i (12)

i (13)

i (14)

i (15)

i (16)

i (17)all images © Denis Dailleux

(click on the photo for larger image)

For more of Dailleux’s great work, visit his official website.

Standard