To Egypt with Love

Sara Elkamel, Monday 7 Mar 2011

Safarkhan gallery in Zamalek celebrates the youthful 25 January revolution with a collective exhibition entitled “To Egypt with Love”, featuring photographs by three budding artists

Hossam Hassan

Alaa Taher, Bassem Samir and Hossam Hassan each capture inspiring angles of the historical revolution that their generation pulled off, and are donating all proceeds to charity.

The three artists ventured out into the heart of the revolution, zooming in on different aspects of the transformational uprising. They grabbed their cameras, and with no clear plan in mind, were moved by hope. The result is an assembly of diverse photographs, each telling a different story, and each packed with palpable emotion.

Raw Power

Under a roof of a fiery red fabric, protestors march on, as rays of sunlight sneak in to highlight the proud smiles on their faces. Shot by the talented Alaa Taher, the photo carries “raw power”. The prolific Taher, who has exhibited his photographs and paintings profusely over the past decade, took his camera to Tahrir Square, delving wholeheartedly into an impulsive and exhilarating artistic endeavour.

Taher, who is accustomed to the more aesthetic and extravagant travel photography as well as fine art, stepped further out of his comfort zone and into the enthralling Tahrir Square. And the experience was just as adventurous, if not more so, than making art on his wildlife excursions.

“I didn’t have a clear-cut plan,” Taher confesses. Much like the revolution itself, the artist relied on hopeful spontaneity. And Taher drew inspiration from the animated crowds and overwhelming, prevalent faith. With hope and high spirits on his palette, the artist relayed optimism from the crowds and into his photos.

Surrounded by sheer optimism

“The atmosphere was extremely high-spirited.” Surrounded by sheer optimism, Taher looked into his lens, only to see hope on the other side.

Camera in hand, architect and conceptual photographer Bassem Samir also headed to the action-packed Tahrir Square, not knowing exactly what to expect. Faced with countless visually enticing scenes, the artist was overpowered yet inspired. He saw art in the protestors’ chants, their graffiti and their rage. Samir started snapping photos right and left, his vision gradually maturing.

Samir decided to present photographs that reveal an artistic point of view. “I zoomed in on the chronological procession of the revolution, and the art that was being created by the revolution,” explains Samir. His photos tell the story through art. The revolutionary artwork, the looting, the conflicting protests, and this frustration appear in Samir’s photos.

Freedom for art

The photographer stresses that his project is ongoing. As the country’s spirits soar and plummet, people project their state of mind across walls and on the ground, all over the country. “Things are changing every day,” says the artist. “And alongside the revolution, there came a freedom for art.”

Hossam Hassan was also intrigued by the fluid, and inspiring nature of the revolution. Shooting uncontrollably, Hassan found it hard to stop taking pictures. Throughout this riveting process, the artist assembles his photographs, like pieces of a puzzle, to create an ultimately revealing composition.

“The experience was extremely spontaneous,” says Hassan. And undeniably, the whole country was in a state of flux, impossible to encapsulate in a single frame and because of that, Hassan’s photos are amalgamations of many different shots. He uses digital art and mixed media to create a visual map that captures the prevailing essence of events.

Awe-inspiring scences 

The artists found in hard to maneuover through the crowds in Tahrir Square, adding to the exhilaration of the experience. Everywhere their eyes went, their hands ached for more, and they aimed their cameras towards a myriad of awe-inspiring scenes.

The artists manage to document the historical revolution, from their individual, original artistic viewpoints. It was challenging, yet exciting, to cram entire stories into one picture. Yet ultimately, they were capturing the revolutionary ethos through art.


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