Egyptian revolutionary photography in Germany

Ahram Online, Tuesday 25 Sep 2012

Museum of Photography in Braunschweig shows 'Cairo. Open City: New Testimonies from an Ongoing Revolution' from 28 September, featuring several Egyptian curators, photographers and artists

Image featured in the exhibition by Jonathan Rashad

On 28 September, the Museum of Photography in Braunschweig opens a warehouse space hosting an extensive documentary, video, art, audio recordings and news photography exhibition on Egypt's revolution.

Florian Ebner and Constanze Wicke, the curators, have been visiting Cairo often over the past year meeting curators, artists and photographers to get them to tell their story visually.

Cairo. Open City: New Testimonies from an Ongoing Revolution is divided into various chapters and tells the story of the social awakening and political discourse that followed the 25 January 2011 uprising. The exhibition does not attempt to showcase a finished work, but rather utilizes the openness of the ongoing process of change taking place in Egypt.

Reporting on What Happened

The exhibition starts outside of the space, with one of the Mobinil billboard advertisements showing an image from Tahrir Square, accompanied by a quote from a world leader on the inspiring stance Egyptians took.

Walking into the gallery, viewers will be met with a chronology wall of newspapers' front pages (state run, independent and international) of iconic days up until Mohamed Morsi's presidential election, along with curated works from the Tweets from Tahrir book, edited by Alex Nunns.

In the more documentary-based chapter of the exhibition, there are several photo-stories of Al-Shurooq newspaper photographers curated by Thomas Hartwell along with photographs by Magnum Agency photographers Peter Van Agtmael and Alex Majoli.

In that same chapter, Ahram Online's Rowan El-Shimi curates Iconographies Through the Lens of Protesters exploring the iconic images and stereotypes of mediatised pictures through photographs taken by citizen journalists.

In the next chapter, entitled New Citizen Journalism the exhibition showcases video works from some important archives, including Mosireen, a media collective that disseminates video content of the revolution and Thawra Media, an open platform for people to share photos and videos.

The documentary chapter also includes activist Lilian Wagdy's project from the Alternative News Agency II publication. She compiled images from the Friday of Anger, January 28 when Egypt's authorities blocked all communications to provide cover for the bloody clampdown on the million-strong demonstrations in Tahrir Square and governorates all over Egypt. Some of these images have never been seen before.

Flickr albums by photographers Mosaab El-Shamy, Jonathan Rashad and Sarah Carr are also on display.

A project by artist Lara Baladi reflects on the role of images is also included in the space of Reporting on What's Happened.

In the halls after Baladi's exhibition, videos from the Kazeboon (Liars) initiative are projected. Then in the next hall artist Osama Dawood's 2011 Maspero (the Egyptian state media building) image continues a different "chapter," of the exhibition.

A retrospective space can be found next with photographs by Randa Shaath taken in Tahrir Square in 2003 during protests the Iraq war. Many activists attribute the Iraq war as a major catalyst in returning street politics to Egypt's political scene. These photographs stand alongside historical photographs of Tahrir Square as a demonstration site.

From a Certain Distance: Art works

The second hall of the exhibition is dedicated to art, even if in progress. Nadine Khan displays her video project I will Speak of the Revolution (2011) along with Jasmina Metwaly's Tear Film a project also from the publication of Alternative News Agency II. Both works question the representation of images produced during the revolution.

The next chapter focuses on the military junta with Nermine Hammam's exhibition Upekkha (2011) featuring images of Egyptian soldiers in Tahrir Square up against blue skies and aesthetically pleasing natural backgrounds, along with a collection of photographs and interviews with military families put together by Heba Farid.

Taha Belal shows his Works on Newspapers (2012) transferring newspaper's ink to paper by frottage alongside Tarek Kamel's Hypothetical Society (2009) drawings. Also on display are works from the exhibition Shift Delete 30 featuring works by artists Mohamed Ezz, Islam Kamal, Ibrahim Saad and Osama Abdel-Moneim.  Hala El-Koussy displays her 2010 mural project The Myths and Legends Room, The Mural.

In an attempt to see representations of the economic crisis, Tarek Hefny's 2008 project You Two-Faced Whore which looks at empty billboards will be displayed alongside Philip Rizk's Strum Amonseto (2010) displaying videos of workers' and farmers' protests before the revolution. Nasser Nouri's photographs from the 2008 Mahalla factories uprising will also be showcased.

Other testimonies by artists in the exhibition include Kaya Bekhalam's Exhibitions in the Dark (2011), Chris Micalski and Sebastian Stumpf show Children's ideas about the revolution (2012). Townhouse's Alexandra Stock curates Cell Phone Stories (2012), Dennis Daillex shows portraits of martyrs families (2011) and Joanna Domke and Maroan Omara show their 50 minute documentary CROP (2012) analysing imagery of the revolution.

The exhibition ends in a library space dedicated to blog posts by activists including Hossam El-Hamalawy and Sarah Carr along with images of the week from different news sites for people to browse through.

Certain works of the extensive exhibition of Egypt's imagery will also be show in Berlin in October, along with the whole exhibition in Cairo later in 2013.

28 September - 23 December 2012
Warehouses on Hamburger Strasse 267, Braunschweig, Germany

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