Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Documenting Egypt's Abandoned Palaces

The Polis Blog

With photos.

Nikolskaya currently teaches photography at the American University in Cairo and is editing her upcoming book, "Egyptian Dust: The Social Life of Endangered Spaces," which will be released in February 2012. The book will include 70 pictures featuring buildings in ten Egyptian cities, with text by historian and poet On Barak.

Polis recently met with Xenia Nikolskaya in Stockholm to talk about the project.

For the last four years you have been documenting abandoned Egyptian palaces for your project "Dust." How did you come up with this idea?

One day, by chance, I walked by the Sarageldin palace in Cairo's Garden City. It was a fascinating little villa with sculptures and a garden — very romantic. The doorman asked me if I'd like to see the inside, and of course I did. All the windows were covered with shutters, and I was very curious to see the interior. It was like a sleeping beauty. The furniture was still in place, but it looked like the residents left suddenly, possibly at the time of the revolution in 1952. When I processed my pictures, the first thing I noticed, besides the beautiful interiors, was the dust. The dust is clearly visible in the pictures.

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