I stepped into my closet of memories, my father’s family house in Mahalla el Kobra. I hadn’t been there for over 7 years. Time was stored in one place. And, the watch had stopped. I could recall history as, from each corner the tales of its passing, spoke. I saw my life stream by as I moved between the objects and the furniture. Looking at myself in photographs of myself and reflected in my grandparent’s vintage portrait prints, each part of me lived again in each single remnant of the house we were passing on now, to other newer owners.
The pieces were not just of the house nor typical objects. They were, rather, pieces of me, pieces my family and I had made and gathered over the years and writings from the past. I was moved by the large and the small each evoking times and places gone and now, transformed in our memories. The collected memories that would shape the foundation of our present and future; memories in the form of prints… piles of papers, dusts of letters, documents, treasure boxes of stamps and photos celebrating an era with all its historical and political references.
I came across gems as I explored. The envelope, dusty, fragile, wrinkled papers and documents dating back to a time when the writers were still alive. A time, my mind struggles to understand yet still cannot grasp that it has disappeared. They fold and unfold through time, they age, wrinkle and pile up with dust.
Messages found in the lines of my grandfather’s old envelopes holding the letters and stamps he used to collect, mark their folds like the wrinkles on an aging face connecting the past to the present. Such letters and documents hold many memories, some displaced, even replaced, as time has passed by. Like all life, their physical presence wears out but while they remain, they reflect the existence of what once was.
I was struck my the amount of print and the remnants of the leftover paper that has been there. Such prints travel more deeply into our life than we think. The ephemeral beauty in those papers …they will fade by time and there will be no traces of memory…we will sooner or later stop writing and move to typing and virtually documenting our lives.
Printed material has enormous graphic impact. The art on stamps celebrated events and paid homage to individuals. History is seen through them, timelines that trace social and economic reforms or commemorate architectural styles such as The Nile Hilton Art Deco building on the Nile Corniche that portrays the Modernist Era Egypt was getting into.
If My Grandfather Had Written Me A Letter is an exhibition about the beauty of communication through the ephemeral fabrics of time. While digging in the past and traveling through the world of my grandparents, I imagined my grandparents had decided to write me letters, messages from the past. I had gone to celebrate history at my grandfather’s house in Mehalla, instead I found myself celebrating the existence of printed material, treasures of my grandfather, treasures of the past. The textures of time and multiple layers of memories reflected in objects and prints serve as reminders, directing our hearts and recording our lives.The exhibition is my reply to the past, to those people who have gone, taking away with them their stories yet leaving behind lines and clues that retell and remind.
The project is now on as part of the OFF Something Else Biennale in Cairo. The venue is located on 29 hoda shaarawy Street, second floor. Opening hours are everyday from 2-8 pm except Sunday.
The exhibition runs until December 15, 2018
The location link : https://goo.gl/maps/m2fEAws92V62