You Died Again on Screen

2018 – 2019

in brief

The ancient Egyptian mummies have been extensively portrayed throughout history, since the early inceptions of photography and cinema, and remain popular in visual culture. Certain ways of portraying them have been repeatedly followed like traditions, which resulted in establishing stereotypes. In the thesis, I investigate how some of these recurring portrayals dehumanise the ancient Egyptians. For this purpose, I have compiled an archive of photographs and films, and analysed their stereotypical portrayal patterns. In doing so, I have identified two traditions; the portrayal of mummies in non-fictional photographs as artefacts (artefication), and their portrayal in fictional films as monsters (monstrification). In two visual essays accompanying this thesis, I demonstrate how these traditions systematically deny the portrayed mummies essentially and uniquely human qualities, resulting in their dehumanisation.

In the filmic essay, You Died Again on Screen, I attempt to portray them humanely, by addressing them directly in my voice-over narration as seated spectators looking at their own fictional portrayals. In the photographic essay,  At Last, I hold Your Gaze, I attempt to imagine their voices commenting on their own artefication, and in doing so protesting the way in which they have historically and incessantly been muted. On the whole, the thesis aims to offer a critique on dehumanising portrayals of the ancient Egyptians, shedding light on the repercussions of the encounter with such images.

At Last, I hold Your Gaze – photobook excerpt

You Died Again on Screen – film essay

// This project was conducted during my masters studies at Leiden University. My mentor was Ali Shobeiri. 

© 2019 sara sallam