Egypt is a country that has been extensively photographed, starting at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. These countless images have fed our occidental imaginations and are, in one way or another, inscribed in our minds.
Here, in this exhibition, there are no signs of exoticism or orientalism. These young photographers, seven women and nine men between the ages of 20 and 30, allow us to go beyond appearances. Their hakawi, or stories, show us Egypt today — a place where everyday life consists of struggle and hope.
For two months, Diane Augier and I reviewed over five hundred applications, getting to know the photographers through their work. Following forty interviews, we selected the projects you see here. The strong presence of young women photographers in the applicant pool was a pleasant surprise, and seems to us worth mentioning.
Hakawi is a mosaic of photographic stories about contemporary Egypt, documenting the country and its society with integrity and without compromises. These photographers work in an environment far from suitable for documentary photography, where it remains a challenge to earn a living doing this work. And yet, despite these circumstances, they have produced high quality work. We see in this a message of hope that demands respect. These women and men have not given up, choosing instead to continue telling their stories and those of their country.
It is important to make space for this emerging generation of photographers. Baring all, they show us where and how they live. These artists are part of a movement that has been emerging for several years across the African continent, one that demands our attention and support. Hakawi is a window into these stories.
Text written for the exhibition
"Hakawi - Contemporary Egyptian Tales"
by Diane Augier and Bruno Boudjelal, curators.
• Mai Al Shazly • Roger Anis • Mohamed Anwar • Fathi Hawas • Eman Helal • Karim El Hayawan • Ebrahim El Moly • Nada Elissa • Hesham Elsherif • Fatma Fahmy • Ahmed Gaber • Hana Gamal • Amina Kadous • Heba Khamis • Mohamed Mahdy • Fares Zaitoon •