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The Egyptian Uprising in Pictures

August 28, 2011

The Egyptian uprising was an iconically rich event, and efforts to preserve these images are taking place in social media, in art journals, and of course, inevitably, in books.

No fewer than three recent books from American University in Cairo Press collect and comment on these images.

Messages from Tahrir: Signs from Egypt’s Revolution is a collection of photographs of the written signs of the uprising, edited by Karima Khalil. Khalil is a medical doctor and amateur photographer who took most of the pictures in the book.

AUC Press says the purpose of the book is to reflect “the imagination and creativity of the posters, placards, and signs that the protesters wore, waved, or hung from buildings, fences, and lampposts day by day throughout the demonstrations.”

These emotive messages displayed a range of visual inventiveness and linguistic dexterity (in Arabic, English, and several other languages) that expressed very powerful feelings yet often entertained at the same time. Egyptian amateur photographer Karima Khalil here gathers images taken by herself and others of these messages, showing their great variety, from the simple and repeated Irhal(“Leave”), written in a hundred different ways, to poems, rhyming slogans, puns, jokes, and tributes to the martyrs killed by security forces in the protests. These messages form a compelling visual record of a people’s long suppressed hopes and desires.

A very different book of photographs is The Road to Tahrir: Front Line Images by Six Young Egyptian Photographers. The six photographers of the title are Sherif Assaf, Omar Attia, Timothy Kaldas, Rehab Khaled, Zee Mo, and Monir al Shazly.  

These six young Egyptian photographers followed and documented the events in different parts of Cairo from early in the Tahrir protests. In addition to scenes of the peaceful occupation of Tahrir Square, the book includes photographs of the early battles of the protesters against security forces,  the attacks by the thugs on camel and horseback, and the the victory celebrations that followed Mubarak’s resignation.

AUC Press says:

Together in this stunning visual record they present the days of the Revolution in sequence, from tear gas to tears of joy, picturing a story of determination and courage that inspired the world.

Then there is a book by the Swedish professional photographer Mia Gröndahl, who has already published two books on of photographs in Gaza. One of her books is a collection of photographs of people, another a celebration of the political graffiti on the Gaza wall.

Her new book is Tahrir Square: The Heart of the Egyptian Revolution, and it features a moving forward by Ayman Mohyeldin, the Arab-American journalist who became one of the voices of the uprising on Al-Jazeera.

AUC Press reports:

Gröndahl returned day after day to the square, to record the incredible tent city within a city that would not budge until the president did, and to capture the great humanity of the revolution that impressed Cairo, Egypt, and the world. This book presents a selection of her moving photographs from those historic days, along with the testimony in words of some of the people who were there.
This is primarily intended as an informational post. I’ll try to write a more critical account when I get my copies of these books.

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