Egyptian V. From (All) Egyptians, 2010–2011
Edition 1/7 + 2 AP
Sheet size A2 (420 x 594 mm)
Ultrachrome K3 auf Hahnemühle Photo Rag Pearl 320 g/qm
Print number: NB1200X-5
A person’s clothing and appearance send messages asserting his or her identity or thinking, assertions addressed to a circle of relationships. Well-mastered, appearance expresses less and less a state of fact and becomes pure communication. The question is: How far can we trust it? I have observed that in recent years a lot of people in Egypt, under cover of having a new financial or religious status, changed their look radically and relatively fast and, in the same way, changed their social relationships. What can be deduced from this? At the least, that everyone has multiple faces; at the worst, that clothes make the man. In February 2010, I started an art project, miming with my face many Egyptian male characters. I started shooting the photo series, while brushing, dyeing and shaving my hair and beard differently at different stages throughout a year. Part of the photographic series Egyptians was on view at the Darb Gallery in Cairo in December 2010, when the bomb attack against a Coptic Church in Alexandria during a New Year's Eve service killed 21 people. As a response to this attack, the founder and director of Darb 1718 and myself took the initiative to make a protest poster using the photographs, adding the slogan "All Egyptians". Ten days later the revolution started. While the sit-ins on Tahrir Square and later on, the activists displayed the poster “all Egyptians” and reproduced it on huge tarpaulins used as a symbol of unity. These images made first to question identity aspects changed their status and were looking more like communication, I thought. In reality, beyond the displayed slogan, there was enough ambiguity remaining to carry on questioning identity.