“Cairographie”: documenting transition through art 

Nada Deyaa’
5 Min Read

Change is the only constant fact that endures people’s lives, while photography remains one of the most heart touching arts that directly invades people’s hearts touching their souls. Combining transitions ransacking society through the lens of emerging photographers was the idea “Cairographie” festival explores.

Organized by Darb 1718, an Egyptian contemporary art and culture centre, in cooperation with photopia, a hub for Egypt based photographers, “Cairographie” is a photograph and video annual festival. In its first edition, the festival focuses on Egypt’s photographers and videographers. Under the theme of “transitions”, 43 young participants expressed how they see change taking over their lives in different aspects.

Opening its doors to mass on Sunday, the festival hosts a rich artistic program of workshops and talks.

Transition is this year’s theme of the festival. The theme was chosen by Karim El-Hayawan, one of the organizers and a distinguished Cairo based photographer and an interior architect.

Believing that rapid, unprecedented change has been the main theme of Egyptians’ lives for the past six years, EL-Hayawan went for transitions theme as it can be reflected in all of youths lives’ different aspects.


“Transformation has been a very important word in our lives” he started his talk saying “I chose the theme because I felt it’s one common thread that is connecting all of us together; whether the change is political, ideological, religious, yet it connects us all in one circle”.

It’s a very personal topic; yet, it’s a very broad message, he assured.

From his perspective, layers of transitions included the affect social media and technology has overlapped making change essential in people’s lives without even realizing it, “so it was very important to portray such an essential element through photography”.

Transitions are reflected on us and by us, whether these transitions are inflicted or embraced, resurrected or created. What varies is the impact that transitions incite, both individually and/or collectively, he added.

Out of 100 participants, 43 artists were chosen to showcase their transition portrays whether in a video or a set of photographs.

Some of them reflected the change they witnessed at Egypt’s architecture, while other detected the city blocks while invading green sceneries. However, human interaction remained the dominance factor of artists’ spotlights.

Some of the participating projects were the first attempt of  amateur photographers who felt the passion of photography.

“If this art reflects anything, it’s the tremendous talent younger generations have in Egypt,” said the founder of photopia, “the main transition this exhibition reflects is that young emerging artists currently have venues to showcase their work at”.


Fares Zaitoon, a 27 emerging documentary photographer. His portrayed set of photographs documented his journey of addiction recovery.


Through a set of 10 black and white portrays captured by his real friends who have gone through the same journey with him, Zaitoon documented the state of addicts in their addiction and recovering journeys. Most of photographs showed young men suffocating and depressed. With their agonized gazes that seek a moment of relief and a body language that reflects pain eating their souls, Zaitoon expressed the change occurs in addicts’ lives.

“Through my photographs, I wanted to document people’s hidden sufferings” Zaitoon told Daily News Egypt “I wanted to state my emotions journey, especially when I re-collapsed. Everyone goes through life transitions, mainly believing that it wouldn’t pass, yet they eventually do”.


“People usually neither know nor want to express when they are going through these phases, and capturing them in a no-words type of art was my motive for this project” he added.

for six months, Zaitoon worked on his project in order to come up with effective heart touching portrays that deliver people’s conditions in life from pain, depression reaching the indifference phase.

The festival lasts until the end of December at Darb 1718, in Fustat, Old Cairo.


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