Ways of Remembering

Through framed images of its public icons, Cairo searches for a lost past

28 February 2023
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In the alleyways of old Cairo, in its cafes, warehouses and barbershops, framed portraits of Egyptian icons are ubiquitous. Kings, presidents, religious and political figures are all immortalised on fading walls, held up as symbols of a glorious past. The figures may have faced defeat, death, resignation or the collapse of their empires, but what they represent in the public imagination seems to firmly hold on, kept alive in pictures hung across the city.

In 2015, the photographer Amina Kadous returned to Cairo, her hometown, after five years of being away. While she was gone, the city had changed in fundamental, historic ways. The 2011 Tahrir Square revolution deposed Hosni Mubarak, the fourth president of Egypt, who had been ruling since 1981. Mubarak’s reign had been marred with accusations of corruption and abuse of power. As a result of the revolution, he was ordered to stand trial and eventually sentenced to life imprisonment. Five years on, what changes had this tectonic political shift induced into the landscape of Cairo? In what ways had the city altered, and equally significantly, in what ways had it not? Kadous set out to explore these questions in a photography project ongoing since 2017.

Amina Kadous is a visual artist based in Cairo, Egypt. Her work tackles concepts of memory and identity. 

Keywords: Egypt Cairo Tahrir Square memory