Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Welome to Egypt : My Egypt.....

Pin It For many, Egypt is a land of mystery, of ancient pyramids and temples; myth, legend and all sorts of notions of who built the pyramids and their inherent powers.

My personal experience of Egypt, and that which I have documented here is very different. I find the ancient sites interesting to be sure, but I find the people, the hustle and bustle and chaos of the cities - and the ironies of East meets West to be far more fascinating.

So, as a documentary photographer, I chose to concentrate on those aspects, leaving the sites of ancient Egypt to the Egyptologists and to the many books that cover this field with carefully contrived images and illustrations.

In fact, I think those sorts of images are best left to the coffee-table books. They have managed to portray ancient sites in a way that normal visitors don't really get to see. The pyramids, for example, can be such an unpleasant experience in terms of rampant commercialism, 21st century litter and tour buses everywhere, that it's really preferable to buy a postcard. The wonder of it all is somehow lost in the constant hustle and desire of local folk to get you to part with your money. It's decidedly unspiritual.

I was interested in fact in quite the opposite; in portraying what I saw in the glossy pictorial style of the tourism brochures but with a different content, a sense of irony and reality versus myth and legend.

That aside, there are all sorts of interesting ironies in Egypt; the covering up of overt sexuality but the open display of very provocative underwear in many shop window displays, the attitudes towards Western woman derived from B-grade television movies from the US.

Egypt is one of my favourite places. I enjoy the humour that I see in the detail (a coke bottle fragment as the new archaeology of the 21st Century, Italian food at one of the world's more spectacular mosques, for example), the people, the crumbling cities, the order that is in the chaos. Egypt has a faded grandeur that is best seen in images rather than in words, and there is much to discover far from the traditional tourist sites. Just let yourself wander aimlessly around for a while in serendipity. It's a very safe place to do just that. For the adventurous and the observant, Eqypt is a delightful and rewarding place. As a country, it all works; how and why it does is hard to figure out. But it does.

All images Nikon D90, 18-200VR