Photobook Research – Islam Aly

Islam said “I made this book to document the words that were repeated in the streets of Cairo during the Egyptian Spring of 2011 when millions of protesters from a variety of socioeconomic and religious backgrounds demanded the overthrow of the regime. The people repeated the three words: Bread [livelihood], Freedom, and Social Justice. I used Arabic Kufic script and spelled the words Eish, Horeya, Adala Egtemaeya — Bread, Freedom and Social Justice. These words are repeated over and over in different ways along the 30 sections. The book is an effort to remember and reflect on these events. It also serves as a reminder for the revolution’s main demands. Additionally, the book incorporates details of Cairo’s streets on the front and backboards. Cairo’s map is also laser engraved on three edges of the book.”–VampandTramp website.

I find this book a wonderfully subtle comment on the issues in Cairo. It encompasses the main message of the revolution and reflects on it in a balanced way without taking a propagandistic stance in a way that serves as a reminder of the events that happened as well as a wonderful piece of art.

Lasercutting paper makes it very fragile which is a great reflection on the tipping point of the revolution, while it was hanging in the balance and the state of the country was itself delicate. It is also a very precise, well thought and intricately designed process which shows the amount of thought and reflection he put into this piece.

This book is a beautiful example of how maps can be used subtly to portray serious messages without being explicit about their significance. Places and events that happened there resonate with the people that experienced them. I hope that the way I want to use my maps in my photobook can portray this in the same subtly elegant way.

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