Hana Gamal’s photographic exhibition at D-CAF explores loss, love, memory – Visual Arts – Arts & Culture

(Photo: Mostafa Abdel Aty, D-CAF)

The terrace, recently fitted out by the company Ismaïliya for Real Estate, partner of the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF), comes alive with the recorded voice of Mahmoud Darwish accompanying the exhibition.

Each of the rooms is reserved for a different installation of photos representing part of the artist’s memories or an aspect of his daily life. In this multi-layered reconciliation, both introspective and retrospective, some details blur as even loved ones can be forgotten.

As the exhibition notices reveal, the photos oscillate “between the real and the dream, the physical and the intangible, the unsaid and the expressed”. They take visitors on a journey that “uncovers layer by layer the memories, experiences and dreams that are half-invented, half-lived or half-forgotten. Forgoten As If You Never Were is a personal and intimate exploration of loss, love, and memory – the perpetual inner struggle and overwhelming melancholy of forgetting or being forgotten leads to redefining the meaning of freedom.”

Still, Gamal tries to capture the details and rehabilitate his loved ones. She invites viewers to experience the feelings of nostalgia with her and pay attention to the smallest everyday details.

Sometimes they are black and white photos or posters of Umm Kalthoum, sometimes she is inspired by proverbs or Koranic verses that she has picked up on the walls of old houses and shops. Gamal also exhibits souvenir photos of a loved one who is no longer in our kingdom.

In one of the rooms, we see faces encountered in the city’s public transport. A woman sits, squinting, fleeing from a harsh daily reality, as the vehicle speeds along. In one work, she puts her hand on the window, trying to get some air, as if searching for hope.

In another space, a large colorful photograph that showcases the sea welcoming summer covers the ceiling of an entire room, with two lounge chairs placed around the room. Here we find children delighted to play on the beach, adults diving into the water. The whole decor helps you feel the sea and enjoy the atmosphere as much as the protagonists of the photos.

Over time, Darwish’s voice fades to give way to an Aragoz song (a traditional Egyptian clown puppet) performed by Omar Sharif in one of his films. On the walls, old cardboard calendars and a yellowish copy of the daily Al-Akhbar evoke the passing years.

As we wander through the room, we realize that a part of our history, of our life, has indeed already been forgotten.

The exhibition opened on October 1 with the ninth edition of the D-CAF festival and runs until October 22 at the Victoria Building Rooftop, Al-Shorbagi Building on Abdel-Khaleq Tharwat Street, Downtown Cairo .

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Tracey L. Sweeney