In the Shadow of the Pyramids with Laura El Tantawy

Laura El Tantawy in front of her exhibition, In The Shadow of the Pyramids at Gulf Photo Plus gallery. Courtesy of GPP
Laura El Tantawy in front of her exhibition, In The Shadow of the Pyramids at Gulf Photo Plus gallery. Courtesy of GPP

If you haven’t been yet, you still have a few days to catch In The Shadow of the Pyramids by British Egyptian photographer Laura El Tantawy.

The show, up at Gulf Photo Plus, features some key pieces of work from El Tantawy’s larger body of work, which bears the same name as the exhibition’s title.

She began the series in 2005, when she returned to her native Egypt after nine years living in the USA and was moved by the energy she discovered.

“The timing was very important,” she says. “Beginnings and endings are very important in everything but for me, in my work, particularly so. When I returned

I started going out on the streets and connecting with people and even in 2005, there were very outspoken and energetic protests against Mubarak. For me it was extremely inspiring and I began to photograph that.”

El Tantawy continued to document this right up to and through the January 25th 2011 revolution until 2013. She created a powerful series, which has now been collated into a book and is on show in Dubai until the end of this week.

Although she focuses on portraits in her many of her pieces, the deep emotions and chaotic movements on the streets are palpable. When you view the images together on the back wall of the gallery, painted black and making the colours stand out even more, it is like you are looking at one image, broken up into many forms.

The politics of the moment disappear behind the human stories. “What has always inspired me about Egypt is that it is a story about the human condition. Even as the protests gained momentum and the violence and aggression escalated, I never saw it as a conflict, I saw it as the struggle for people to have respect and change the future for their children.

“This is not a body of work about Egypt but one about Egypt through my own perceptions and feelings,” she says.

Alongside the curated collection of images, an excerpt of poetry from the book and some of El Tantawy’s childhood photographs are also on display.

“We tried to create the same feel in the exhibition as is in the book,” she explains. “It was difficult to put these personal pictures but I felt it gave the book a sense of honesty and it also shows the juxtaposition of the personal and the general.”

* In The Shadow of the Pyramids runs until April 4 at Gulf Photo Plus, Dubai. For more info visit: www.gulfphotoplus.com

Published: March 30, 2015 04:00 AM

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