Cairo, a city that is always in constant change and transitional moments, yet to say it’s still the same…The dust, the falling walls, the cracked paint along with the wooden doors, the windows, the rustic metals, and the aged texture…are all elements that create a spontaneous image of Cairo. A city trapped in its own past and stretching to an unknown future.
Icons or hanging public figure portraits exists everywhere and they are placed and symbolized in all places holding certain meanings and references by people, yet the question is: why do old iconic figures exist in such abundance in those areas portrayed? Is it fearing the present? Resisting the future, or questioning the past? Or do such icons represent certain ideologies that they still hold on to till now? Such icons only exist and such areas exist in the deeper parts of old Cairo, people live encapsulated and isolated than the greater city, thus making the city entrapped.
Seen in the alleys and in the deep cores of Old Cairo houses, barbershops, coffee-shops and warehouses, some icons are immortal. My walks have continuously led me to encounters with places and people still living in their rituals of their old era. They exist without moving forward and spend their days in memories of the good past they have lived. Portraits such as El Sadat’s and Abdel Nasser are glorified. And not only political figures but also some portraits include religious and ancestral icons as well. They are idols they look up to and have attached memories with, they have played an important role in their life and they act as a constant reminder to longed memories and the treasured past days that has been lived. The Symbols that stay the same no matter what the place is…its constant.
Part of Cariene and the arabic culture is to look up to, respect and glorify public icons and elderly figures, a concept rooted in our traditions and ethics. Being attached and representing figures and putting halos against some people, it’s something that defines an Egyptian. Cairo, a city of icons that is itself iconic I see through these breaths and gasps of time, endlessly in flux and endlessly in chaos. A city where, as Heraclitus says, “The only thing that is constant is change.”