Friday, October 08, 2010

Egypt's history in photographs

Al Ahram Weekly (Rania Khallaf)

Presenting Egypt's history through photography is a recurrent theme in today's art galleries. However, it can be hard to get a sense of Egypt's long history through a single exhibition, since the country's modern history can be divided into many periods and these cannot be done justice to in a single exhibition.

"One Hundred and Fifty Years of Egypt's Modern History" was the title of a photography exhibition recently held at the Music Library attached to the Cairo Opera House. But which part of Egypt's modern history does the title refer to?

Visiting the exhibition, which ended last week, I was surprised to find that only 130 black-and-white pictures were on show to cover this long period. Though the exhibition was organised by photographer Samir El-Ghazouli, not a single picture had his name on it. When I met El-Ghazouli, I found that the whole collection consisted of photographs taken by his father, pioneer photographer Mohamed El-Ghazouli (1900-1963).

El-Ghazouli Senior was the private photographer of King Fouad until the latter's death in 1936, and he was also one of the first photographers to work at the photography section of Al-Ahram in the 1930s.

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