Duat photo exhibition pays tribute to Naguib Mahfouz and photojournalist Mohamed Hegazy

Amira Noshokaty , Monday 30 Aug 2021

Photo gallery brings Naguib Mahfouz's presence back to life, 15 years after his death


Monday 30 August marks the launch of the Duat photo exhibition, which runs through 4 September. The exhibition presents several rare photographs of Egypt’s renowned Nobel Prize winning writer Naguib Mahfouz. The photos are part of the rare collection of Al-Ahram’s late photo journalist Mohamed Hegazy.

Curated by Mohamed Hegazy’s son, Aly Hegazy took the name of the exhibition from ancient Egyptian mythology. Duat is the afterlife where kings come back to life and talk about their deeds in front of Anubis and the other gods on the day of judgment.

Curator Aly Hegazy pointing out his favorite photo

“As the name reflects, this exhibition brings back to life such photos and all the stories behind them,” explained Aly Hegazy adding that the timing and duration of the photo exhibition is also symbolic.

“While researching this exhibition I realised that death anniversary of Naguib Mahfouz is also the birthdate of my father, so I built the whole concept of the exhibition on this idea of the continuation of life,” he added.

Renowned Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1988. Famous for his Cairo Trilogy – Bayn Al-Qasrayn (Between the Palaces), Qasr Al-Shawq (Palace of Longing) and Al-Sukkariya (Sugar House) – Mahfouz’s detailed depiction of the authentic traditions and culture of Egypt was unprecedented.

Having written over a 100 short stories and no fewer than 30 novels, his works are regarded as a detailed account of the social history of Egypt. His characters came to life in more than 15 films, whose ideas, techniques and themes are still topics of discussion.

The photo exhibition reveals a rare personal side of Naguib Mahfouz, for Mohamed Hegazy was the only photographer allowed inside the writer’s house.

“Their relationship started when my father was assigned by Al-Ahram newspaper, a photo-shoot of Naguib Mahfouz. After researching the writer’s routine, my father decided to capture Mahfouz’s daily rituals from a distance and without telling Naguib Mahfouz. When Mahfouz saw the photos, he loved the concept of documenting such rituals and since that day my father was the only photographer allowed to shoot inside the house of Naguib Mahfouz especially in his later years.”

photo caption: Curator Aly Hegazy pointing out his favorite photo

Egyptian Photographer Mohamed Hegazy (1964-2020) studied business at Ain Shams University and later started his journey with Al-Ahram Newspaper as an intern in 1990. He was hired later as a photojournalist covering different sectors including sports, youth, arts and entertainment. Following that, he became the photography department manager and vice editor in chief at Nisf Al-Dunia Magazine.

Displaying over 20 photos of rare intimate moments in the life of Naguib Mahfouz, the photos are a documentation of his daily life on the street, at the office and at home.

Hegazy also highlights one specific photo. “When Naguib Mahfouz’s eye sight grew weaker, he used to wait for Hajj Sabry, the secretary of Tharwat Abaza (late Egyptian minister of culture) to read him the daily paper, My father captured this with his camera,” noted Hegazy.

Naguib Mahfouz with photographer Mohamed Hegazy

“The exhibition’s theme reflects a famous quote of Mahfouz: ‘Events at home, at work, in the street – these are the bases for a story,’” explained Hegazy.

On the a parallel note, the Walk like an Egyptian initiative is organising a walking tour in the footsteps of Mahfouz through the lens of Mohamed Hegazy on 3 September.

Duat photo exhibition 30 August- 4 September 2021

Venue: Consoleya 5 El-Fadl, Bab Al Louq, downtown Cairo,

Tuesday 30 August to Thursday from 5 till 11PM and Friday and Saturday from 11AM till 11 PM

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