Assaf et al: The Road to Tahrir
Assaf et al
The past ten months have witnessed an
oversaturation of everything Tahrir-related: from books to t-shirts,
exhibitions to TV shows and theatre plays, the revolution has been
reinterpreted and packaged to the local market ad naseum. AUC Press has
released – according to our count – at least three Tahrir-themed books,
including Messages from Tahrir, Tahrir Square: The Heart of the
Egyptian Revolution and the 2012 calendar Tahrir!, which made this
reviewer particularly wary about The Road to Tahrir, the latest Tahrir
photography book to be released.
The book’s full title is The Road to
Tahrir: Front-line Images by Six Young Egyptian Photographers, and features
photographs by Sherif Assaf, Omar Attia and Rehab K. El Dalil as well as
Timothy Kaldas, Zee Mo and Monir El Shazly. The six photographers were active
participants in the first three weeks of demonstrations in Tahrir Square.
Marching from their different neighbourhoods, they captured with their cameras the
developing events of the revolution. The book is a product
of their vantage points on the revolution as witnesses and participants.
If you’re familiar with the images of the
revolution, then few of these photographs will strike you as unique or
exceptional. Instead; they capture familiar scenes such as the day of the camels,
the protesters marching onto Kasr El Nil Bridge and the banners that many
people carried in Tahrir Square. It’s difficult to bring a new perspective to a theme that has been exhausted this year; and the fact that the book has been released
months after other similar photography books definitely works to its
However, that’s not to say that the
photographs lack depth; a few images definitely stand out and would be the kind
you’d like to have framed on the wall for nostalgia’s sake. One such image is a
black-and-white print of a sheikh walking through two tanks into Tahrir Square,
and another image is that of protesters walking with their hands in the air on Kasr El Eini
Bridge towards armed Central Security Forces.
It’s clear from the angle of the images
that these photographers were caught in the centre of the revolution’s events. However, in this reviewer’s opinion, the images could have been
a lot more personal, and the book could have had less crowd shots and more individual portraits.
Additionally, the use of captions often
worked against the photographs; for example, a very powerful photograph of a
man crying is self-explanatory and definitely didn’t need the corny caption ‘A
cry of agony resulting from years of tyranny, corruption, injustice, poverty, illiteracy,
inflation and unemployment.’
All in all, the photographs – which are
arranged in chronological order according to the significant events in Tahrir – provide a nostalgic visual experience for anyone who’s lived through the January 25th revolution. If you haven’t seen any other similar photography books, you’ll probably
enjoy this book more.