Paris, 1è February 2012, Art Media Agency (AMA).
The Inception Gallery, located on rue de Poitou in Paris’ historic Marais district, is to feature an exhibition of photographs by Spanish sculptor and photographer Miguel-Angel Sanchez titled “Alma de Mundo”. The exhibition is made up of the artist’s photographs of the inhabitants of Cairo, taken during what has become known as the “Arab Spring”. Eric Bonici, the president of Art Premium, a contemporary art revue based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, spoke to Art Media Agency about several works featured in the show, their context, their stories and the choice of Diasec for their public display.
Merbat, flower of the desert
“It is a portrait of a woman, a flower seller. She is a widow and lives, or rather survives, with her children. He face is scarred by pollution. She sells a moment of happiness. She is 47, but her appearance is that of a 70 year old. Her photo is to be on the front cover of a book to accompany the exhibition. After the exhibition of her photo in Cairo, she has gained a little recognition, and sells a few more flowers. The artist has stated that she will receive a small amount of the profits from the book.”
The kharoub’s seller
“A little like the flower seller, this water carrier , who carries around 40 to 50 kilos of his merchandise on him, suffers in order to bring freshness, a little light relief, to his clients. The metaphor of suffering in order to bring happiness to others is a recurring theme throughout the exhibition.”
“This 21 year old is a Coptic Christian, and works for the Cairo Institute of Human Rights. The Egyptian revolution is not a revolution in the name of human rights, but simply one to live better. He helps people to better understand the fundamentals of human rights. In this photo, he is portrayed in an almost christ-like way: a loincloth reminiscent of that worn by Christ on the cross, a candle, and a hand apparently making the sign of the cross.”
“The donkey is the principal figure in this photo. It is this animal that has built egypt over the centuries. The donkey is the symbol of Cairo, a 21st century city, but one which nonetheless has aspects which are still in the 20th, or even 19th century. Using the donkey, the artist pays hommage to the animals of Cairo, who witnessed the events and massacres of Tahrir square.”
The black angel
“This man is a Sudanese homosexual. In Egypt, homosexual people are often tortured, imprisoned and sometimes executed. He hides his sexual orientation, and Miguel-Angel Sanchez has arranged him in the photo with palm leaves painted blood red, this branches representing the psychological suffering that the model experiences.”
She has been nicknamed the Mona Lisa of Cairo. She is a Coptic Christian, speaks five languages and works in a tourist agency. She is revolted by the situation of women in Egyptian society, who cannot go out without being systematically approached, accosted or worse. It does not matter if you’re veiled or not, as many men believe they have the right to do whatever they like. She wants to meet someone, leave the country, and work without having to be subjected to such behaviour.”
Hamed, le poète
“He is a poet and philospher. Through his writing, he was a major opponent to the Moubarak regime well before the revolution. In the photograph’s presentation, he is surrounded by books and papers, in order to underline the fact that he fights in a non-violent way through his writing, and that his involvement in the revolution was similarly pacifistic in nature.”
“One of the best oud players in the world, this Iraqi left his country during the first gulf war and opened an oud school in Cairo. This parchment, which dates to the 15th century, includes instructions of how to build the instrument, which he did himself. He has also developed a method for amputated children so that they can play the instrument with just one hand. He is carrying a dove, because the doves which land on his school’s building “dance” when he or his students begin to play.”
“He is a painter. His portrait is dominated by the colour red, symbolising blood. This artist wants to represent the spilt blood of the people, which has in turn enabled him to express himself through his graffiti art and drawing. He symbolises freedom of expression.”
“Ahmed is a a carpenter. He represents a section of society which is slightly better off, although no living in luxury. Always concerned with himself, he lives alone, preoccupied only by new personal opportunities. Miguel-Angel Sanchez has arranged him with a skull on the table behind which he is sat, in the style of a vanitas still life, in order to highlight that, for him, nothing in life is certain, excluding the fact that that one day we are all going to die. His feet are ruined by his everyday work, but this is a detail only noticed after some time spent contemplating the photo”.
“He is a guard of a garden in a property. he lives with his wife and four children in a space of around 15 square metres, surrounded by rats. It’s his life and does not want to change it, but is happy that the revolution took place as it gives him hope for his children’s future”.
About the photographic technique :
“During the exhibition of these works in Cairo, they were presented in a simple, small, framed format. The works to be displayed at the Inception gallery, on the other hand, are one metre in height, and of varying widths. Five examples of each work have been created in Diasec. Diasec is often criticised as a printing method because of the faults found throughout. Miguel-Angel Sanchez was reluctant to use this technique. In reality there are only two workshops which work in Diasec, and we had to invite a Belgian artist to help familiarise Sanchez with the technique before he was won over”.