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Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Remembering Ahmed Bassiouny

Artist Ahmed Bassiouny was one of hundreds shot dead on Egypt's first Day of Rage during the revolution. A year later his call for protests resonates in the minds of those who loved him and for whose better life he gave his own

Sara Elkamel, Monday 30 Jan 2012
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Ahmed Bassiouny, from YouTube video: "Basiony - Part 1"
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"My beloved Bassiouny…I miss you very much. May you be with me every year and within me as every breath leaves my body, accompanying my lively voice. A whole year has passed! As if it were only a day," artist Shady El-Noshokaty, writes on Facebook on 28 January, the anniversary of his friend’s death.

The 34-year-old Ahmed Bassiouny was a father of two children, Adam, 6, and Salma, 1. Also, he was a professor at the Faculty of Art Education, Helwan University. He was killed on 28 January in Tahrir Square, amid loud gunshots and chants that filled the night sky with demands for freedom.

Shot dead in Tahrir Square on The Day of Rage, Bassiouny left the young artist community behind, mourning him with revolutionary art that honours his memory.

Like hundreds of other young Egyptians who lost their life in the battle for freedom, Bassiouny fought in Tahrir until his last breath.

"He was always on the frontlines, full of energy…until the last moment [I saw him], on 25 January. He was not afraid," says Bassiouny’s friend Mohamed Abdel Kareem in a short documentary of snapshots of the martyred artist’s life.

Ahmed Bassiouny was adored by his colleagues, so his death left them melancholic, nostalgic - and full of art.

Over the past year, Bassiouny has been a revolutionary icon in Egypt’s contemporary art scene. His picture was hung in countless exhibitions throughout Cairo, and was honoured in just as many countless exhibitions. In a way, the year’s young art was a tribute to Bassiouny.

Bassiouny has become the martyr of the artists. Many artists, young and old, joined protests very early on in the revolution. Suffocated for years with restrictions on freedom of expression, their creativity hindered by censorship and harsh living conditions, they were more than ready to chant at the top of their lungs for liberation. They stood in Tahrir Square and risked it all. They did it for their freedom; they did it for their art. Representing a generation wholly dedicated to uninhibited art, Bassiouny’s death only solidified the fighting spirit of thousands of artists.

His friends jokingly say that he was annoyingly persistent: he would not start a conversation without finishing it. He absolutely had to see his thoughts through.

At the onset of revolution, he decided to join the protests calling for freedom, justice and bread. But he did not have a chance to see it through.

"I hoped that my hands would not write such words. These words are so much less than what you deserve… Bassiouny… The days have passed and it’s been a whole year since you passed…why have you been gone so long?" Sherine Lotfy, a friend of Bassiouny’s wrote on 28 January.

After graduating from the Faculty of Art Education, Helwan University in 2000, Ahmed Bassiouny pursued a master’s degree in the Creative Potential of Digital Sound. He pioneered the education of digital art sound in Egypt, by organising workshops that focused on sound experimentation. He was keen on capturing a moment through sound. He was a fan of improvisation. He studied the expressionistic qualities of sound effects, and how they transform a work of art. A loud gunshot ended his life.

"I have a lot of hope if we stay like this [continuing to occupy the square]. Riot police beat me a lot. Nevertheless I will go down again tomorrow. If they want war, we want peace. I am just trying to regain some of my nation’s dignity," Bassiouny wrote on Facebook 26 January 2011.

"It is necessary to be fully equipped when participating in the revolution: a bottle of vinegar to overcome the tear gas, protective masks and tissues to inhale vinegar, self-defence sprays, athletic shoes, Bradoral tablets, food and drink… One cannot use violence against security agents or insult them. Vandalism is also forbidden, for this is our country. Bring a camera with you and don’t be afraid or weak." This was Bassiouny's last Facebook post on 27 January 2011.

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