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January 25th Photography at Sawy Culturewheel

El Sawy Culturewheel: 25th of January Photography

reviewed by
Heba El-Sherif
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El Sawy Culturewheel: 25th of January Photography

To the ordinary Egyptian, the past month has been nothing short of a surreal
storm, a sequence of life-altering events that shook Egypt to its core. The people
spearheaded the revolution, and now they are the ones documenting it.

On Sunday, February 20th, photographs from across Egypt
were put on display at Sawy Culturewheel’s Word Hall, providing a look into Egypt in
revolution from the lens of professional photographers as well as ordinary
citizens who took up photography as a hobby.

With a new found sense of freedom, Egyptians have become eager to express
themselves in numerous forms previously deemed unconventional, and often
slammed as anti-government. Tahrir
Square and the larger area surrounding it were
dotted with signs, flags, graffiti, face paint and a positive energy that many
captured on cameras.

The collection at Word Hall screens events from the unexpected start of
protests on January 25th until the downfall of former President Hosni Mubarak
on February 11th.

The exhibition features photos of the signs held in Tahrir, protesters
marching, violent standoffs with central security forces, properties burnt
down, displays of the Egyptian flag, tenting out in the square,
Christian/Muslim solidarity, children in the revolution and cleaning groups
that took to the streets in the aftermath of the revolution.

Upon entrance, the first collection that the viewer lays eyes on is a series
of photos depicting some of the signs that bore anti-government slogans.  

One photograph of this collection shows an old man with tape over his mouth
carrying, the words ‘Please, Leave’ in Arabic written across. Inspired by the
popular anti-Mubarak chant ‘Leave,’ this simple yet powerful form of
performance art was prevalent around Tahrir.

Another one shows a middle-aged man holding up a paper that reads: ‘This is
the beginning, when will be the end. ‘An adjacent one reads: ‘Yes, to freedom,
now I am finally a free man.’

The next collection sheds light on some of the violent clashes between
pro-democracy protestors and members of the central security forces.

A common scene captured in more than one photograph is of a few dozen
protestors cordoned off by police forces that came in double their number.

Heartening photos include ones featuring children gazing out in hopefulness,
their face painted with the Egyptian flag. Some are also seen wearing arm- and
headbands with the three colours of the flag: red, white and black.

360 Tip

Don’t miss out on the collection tucked at the end of the hall by the stage.

Best Bit

If you’ve been to Tahrir during the revolution, this show will fill you with nostalgia.

Worst Bit

The exhibition suffers from poor curation.

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