Photopia: ‘Travel Stories’: Exhibition and Speaker Series
But as Photopia’s owner Marwa Abou Leila says, amateur was the goal. The exhibition marks the launch of Photopia’s gallery (or ‘photo walls’ that surround the intimate, multifunctional cafe), whose mission to promote works by amateur photographers.
“I like to call it a photographers’ hub, where beginner to professional photographers can meet and exchange ideas. For me, the most important are the talks,” says Abou Leila, who contrasts Photopia with other photography societies like the established, non-profit Contemporary Image Collective in Downtown Cairo.
In keeping with dialogue, photographers and seasoned travellers from the Sahara Safaris are giving nightly talks through the exhibition, which so far, have been promising.
“Have you ever heard of the Samis? Well, you’ve heard of the reindeer. The Sami are nomads in Norway who herd reindeer and live in tents in the snow and have legendary skills when it comes to skiing. I saw how it was for them to be a minority in a Scandinavian country and it helped me reflect on similar cases in Egypt,” the avid traveller and member of the Sahara Safaris told Cairo360. “This is what I’m trying to bring to Egypt; the real stories that travellers would see if they were to go really deep rather than going to Oxford Street in London or the Champs Elysee in Paris, and that’s all Egyptians see – the consumerism when they go abroad. They see nothing but shops.”
“We want to promote the idea in Egypt that you can buy photographs to hang instead of paintings. We’re trying to sell photography as an art form,” says Abou Leila.
Mabrouk explained how today opportunities for non-Westerners to explore the world are gaining traction slowly, but that for Egyptians, their green passports pose a massive hurdle.
“Back then, people didn’t have to deal with passports. That’s one disadvantage for Egyptians today. And only one thing that would overcome that sadly is money”, Mabrouk says.