Youssef Rakha: Revolution’s Residue

I had my camera when I went out to demonstrate on Friday, January 28, the climax of the Egyptian revolution (January 25-February 11, 2011). I was on the streets for over twelve hours but I took only two pictures; they were to sit for years on my hard drive, unedited and undisplayed: my only trophies from the revolution. Unlike the majority of “Arab Spring revolutionaries”, from the moment Tahrir Square was occupied in the small hours of Saturday, January 29 and until the long-time president Hosni Mubarak stepped down, I felt that I couldn’t photograph and protest at the same time, that to be photographing would render my presence in the protests insincere and that the protests were about more important things than photography.

At the same time the figures and the faces that I saw daily in and around the protests, and which belonged to both “revolutionaries” and “counterrevolutionaries”, imprinted themselves on my mind more forcefully than ever before: sullen and despairing men, slim women in high heels and children everywhere.

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Belal Hosni: Everyday Horses/Gregory Djanikian

Alexandria, 1953


You could think of sunlight

Glancing off the minarets,

You could think of guavas and figs

And the whole marketplace filled

With the sumptuous din of haggling,

But you could not think of Alexandria

Without the sea, or the sea,

Turquoise and shimmering, without

The white city rising before it.


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Youssef Rakha: Three Times Cairo

One: Instagram Dreams

Sleep-deprivation is like being high. I know because I was high for a long time, then I started sleeping irregularly. It’s supposed to have something to do with lack of sugar in the brain, which is also the theory of what LSD does to consciousness. Things grow fluid and dreamlike, but at the same time there is a paranoid awareness of motion and a heaviness in the heart. Colour and sound become a lot sharper, and time feels totally irrelevant. Normal speed is fast but fast can pass for normal. A moment lasts for days, days can fit in a moment. Talking and laughing are far more involving, especially laughing. The grotesque animal implicit in each person comes out, sometimes messing up the conversation. And then it’s as if you have no body. As in the best music, an uncanny lightness balances the overriding melancholy. There is joy in flying when you don’t need to move. All through this, what’s more, every passing emotion turns into an epic experience.

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Ahmed Almunirawi’s Tunisian Portraits

It can happen that I am observed without knowing it, and again I cannot speak of this experience, since I have determined to be guided by the consciousness of my feelings. But very often (too often, to my taste) I have been photographed and knew it. Now, once I feel myself observed by the lens, everything changes: I constitute myself in the process of ‘posing,’ I instantaneously make another body for myself, I transform myself in advance into an image. This transformation is an active one: I feel that the Photograph creates my body or mortifies it, according to its caprice…

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Joseph Schreiber: Calcutta in Grey

A city of stark contrasts, Calcutta breathes deeply in black and white.

The altered reality of the black and white image engages the outlines of the urban landscape.


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أحمد المنيراوي: كأنه يراه

كان شوقي للشاورما طاغياً على كل شيء. ذلك الذي دفعني للخروجِ من بيتي، تحت غطاء من المطر والنّسمات الباردة. لأجل الشاورما سأتجاوز الاكتظاظ البشري وعربدة سيارات التاكسي متوجّهًا من وسط العاصمة إلى حي العوينة على الفور.
بعد وصولي ومقابلتي لصديقتي التي عادت حديثاً من قطر، توجّهنا لمطعم سّوري يعمل فيه صديقي الحلبي عبدو. طلبتُ من عبدو فرشوحتين على طريقتنا بالمخلل ودبس الرمّان والحمّص والطحينيّة، لأشفي قلب معدتي وأهدّئ من روع شوقي للأكلّ الفلسطينيّ. من هناك وفور انتهائنا انطلقنا أنا وصديقتي كل يبحث عن تاكسي. كانت محظوظة في التقاط واحد في أقلّ من خمس دقائق، في حين استمرّيت في المشي ما يقارب نصف ساعة حتى عثرت على الحاج محمد.

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