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Hide and Seek

[ 2014 ]



INTRODUCTION

The death of my grandmother was a painful experience for my family. It left us in a state of denial, unable to speak about her passing. It defined my relationship to the topic of death for years: shutting it out of my life and averting my gaze when encountering it.

Later, I would meet another family with a very different attitude towards death. Their business as caretakers of a local cemetery has made talking about death a natural part of their lives. It shaped even the attitudes of two of the youngest members of this family. The two boys would play hide and seek through the maze of mausoleums and concrete crosses in the arid burial grounds. The sounds of crying visitors, the decaying flowers left beside the graves, and the stacks of empty coffins failed to arrest their gaze. In Hide and Seek, I accentuate how the boys accustomed themselves to experiencing this cemetery as a playground by highlighting how their ancient ancestors adopted a similar view of death: seeing it as a natural extension of the world they inhabited and a transition to a celebrated afterlife. To visualise this analogy, pharaonic structures and ornamental symbols are collaged and layered onto the photographs. In doing so, I shed light on how this way of perceiving death extends back in the history of the country. The project thus questions prevalent taboos around death and dying in Egypt. It is an invitation to contemplate contemporary and ancient ways of coexisting in harmony with them.