“Look! it is a photojournalism project!, I HAVE to go!”. I exclaimed dragging a poor friend along, pushing open the door. For a person who is not an avid newspaper reader, this exhibition banner outside Triveni was very inviting.
Entering the hall, I entered a whole different era, it seemed. January 2011. Tahrir Square. Cairo, Egypt. Different shades of crimson, intertwined with black. Slideshows and slideshows of pictures. What IS this place? Hoards and hoards of people, bloodshed and body parts strewn about the landscape. Mothers with children clasped to their bosoms. Men with grime-smeared faces. Torn clothes. Hopeless faces. Innocent dead bodies. My entire aura flipped.
How did I absolutely not come across this?
This exhibition spoke volumes about the tragedy of Tahrir Square. Overthrowing Mubarak might have been a success for the Egyptians and a moment of celebration. But they paid heavily for this freedom. What started as an electoral fraud, further developed into a full-blown Egyptian revolution. The causes may be few, but the damage was humongous. Corruption, inflation and low wages was nothing in comparison to the state of emergency laws and police brutality, claiming lives of more than 11,000 people and arresting more than 12,000.
People resorted to many methods of protest, including online protests, riots and strikes. But the most barbaric ones were those in which people had to resort to self-immolation for a successful coup. Here I saw, what I would call inhumanity at its best.
In 2005,Laura El-Tantawy, first began documenting the everyday lives of Egyptians, going about their chores like any other day. What escaped the eye, was caught in her lens. People living on the fringes of the city in burial grounds, and people living on the verge of humanity, in dumping grounds among scurrying rats and decaying flesh.
In 2011, she ventured on to capture the post-Mubarak Egypt. From the capital to the coast, to the villages and the tourist hubs, she tried to understand what the new Egypt was like and identify the essence of being an Egyptian in those conflicted times.
I honestly, could not fathom the words through which I could portray the misery of people who felt this crisis, as some feelings can never be summed up in a string of words. Should I say, I’d pray for the people? It’s too late. Should I say, the government should step up to provide relief? It probably has. There’s nothing more I can say than whisper a small sigh and put a full stop.
About our Writer: Neelesha Dhawan is an avid reader and a caffeine addict. A writer, painter, blogger and nose-deep into all kinds of creative stuff, she’s at KrantiKali to reach out to the silenced, and hopefully give them a voice; breaking the false conscious in a prejudiced society.