Welcome to Egypt, 2011
recto/verso is happy to announce a project Welcome to Egypt by Alessadro Quaranta.
In February 2011 Alessandro Quaranta participated in the residency in Townhouse Gallery based in Cairo (Egypt). At this particular moment, he found himself in the middle of the Arab Spring, dynamical changes and movements which took place in Egypt and other Arabian countries of this region of the world. For the artist, it seemed to be impossible to stay indifferent to this situation. He spent hours walking in the streets of Cairo, observing people who were changing their future or were witnessing an event of their generation. Quaranta, as a foreigner was welcomed by Egyptians to talk with them, proud to make their history happening in front of his eyes. In result the time of the residency fruited with videos (one of them below The Handy Holes Watchers Parade) and a book Welcome to Egypt consisted of photos taken with people he met, he talked with and after found again to offer a framed image, a souvenir of their encounter. For the artist the strong presence of new media during these events was astonishing. Democratic at one point – as potentially all images can be shared – was a clandestine action of picture taking.
Alessandro Quaranta, The Handy Holes Watchers Parade, 2011
Cairo, 31 March, 2011
WELCOME TO EGYPT
I will see you again somewhere inshallah.
Walking randomly for 6-7 hours in many different areas of the city in Cairo. Whenever somebody stops me, or shouts at me, trying to attrack my attention, instead of running away I stop myself and start to talk with the person encountered on basic matters. When the conversation gains in confidence I ask him (or them) if we can have a photograph taken together by a passer by. The picture shot during the encounter, is printed out and framed.The next step is to try to find the places where the picture has been taken and than giving the framed picture to the person met a few days before, asking him to hang the picture on the shop wall or in the place where the encounter happened. While I am carrying back the pictures, I keep being stopped by someone welcoming
Alessandro Quaranta, from a book Welcome to Egypt, 2011, edited by Townhouse Gallery
12 March 2011
This picture shows also the starting point of the entire project. I was astonished that someone could be attracted by my presence in Tahrir square in a middle of a multitude of demonstrators. The Egyptian flag printed on the pin on my coat may have attracted the person portrayed. He asked me to have a photograph together.
From that moment I understood the mood of the Egyptian people in that peculiar moment of wishes and so I started to walk around asking to be photographed with the persons encountered by chance. By doing so I had inverted the requests occurred in Tahrir square.
contribution courtesy of the artist © Alessandro Quaranta