Last week I connected with ARCHiNOS architecture, a firm that is doing restoration work sponsored by the EU within in the Northern Cemetery (in the City of the Dead). They are now specifically working on the Hawd of Sultan Qaitbay which is deep within the center of the cemetery. In order make their projects sustainable and engage the surrounding community in these places, they have partnered with the local craftsman, mapped the area, and then published an amazing site about the “undead crafts” called “HANDS ON,” which shows the work being done there day to day. After talking to Agnieszka Dobrowolska, the principal architect of the firm, she also invited me to do some sort of art project with them since I am here. A mural seemed like the best possibility for the short amount of time I have left in Cairo. At first I struggled with the blank canvas because I have been drawing so many landscapes of tombs this year, and this sort of scene is completely wrong for this environment. There are real tombs two feet away and people don’t need to be reminded of that. Then I thought about a map of the area, but that was pointless because the wall is in the center of the cemetery and the drawing would be extremely complicated. Finally I decided to make a grid like wall paper pattern referencing the different crafts created inside the cemetery. I like the idea of taking pride for the undead activity in the location- the labor and art of those working in the cemetery. By making a mural of these things, I am saying that they should be celebrated and noticed. So day one of the painting process is done and I will adding color on Tuesday.
Mahmoud and Farah (the guys who helped/ watched over me) hiding from the rain. In Egypt, rain is the equivalent to 1 cm of snow in Houston, which is the equivalent to a big blizzard in Chicago. Therefore, I continued to work on my mural.