Saturday, 9 February 2013

Roy Gunnels | Cairo's Al Muizz Street

Photo © Roy Gunnels-All Rights Reserved
Almost every morning, I scour news websites for updated news on Egypt...my birth country that is experiencing an extremely painful transition from authoritarianism to a sort of chaotic "democracy".  Every day, I read of (and see) examples of incompetence in governance, anarchy, street level anarchy, human rights abuses, violence, economic melt-down, emergence of black markets, capital flight, political paralysis, religious zealotry and antediluvian ideology, sexual harassement, discrimination, civil disobedience, institutional rot and corruption...the list is too long, where do I stop? It has gone for bad to worse...and the end is not in sight.

And yet, Egypt has -over the eons of its existence- survived it's ups and downs...but this time it seems that its luck may have run out. It was better when I grew up there...but it was still better than that when my parents grew up, and it was even better than that when their parents grew up...it's a downward spiral.

I recall walking reasonably recently in Al Muizz street in the medieval section of Cairo...a literal stone's throw from the famed Al Azhar, the Muslim center of learning...so I was glad to have found Roy Gunnel's photographs of that particular street titled A Pastiche of The Street . The street is about one kilometer long and houses shops of traditional wares.

Its full name is a mouthful...it's named after  El Moez Lel Din'ellah, a Fatimid (969-1171) ruler famed for his enlightened rule, and was renowned for his drive to build monuments, mosques and other buildings.

As my readers will see, street photography here is incredibly rewarding and rich of daily life. Another of my favorites (apart from the one above) is the one of a antique store keeper rubbing his toes, with his back turned to an ancient gramophone.

Roy Gunnels is a documentary and fine-art photographer from Fort Worth. He worked the past few years in the Middle-East and Africa while based in Cairo, Egypt. He was profiled and his work from the streets of Cairo featured in The Guardian, as well as the Egyptian Midan Misr newspaper, and the Atlantic Council’s ‘Egypt Source’. His images from the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 have been recommended for exhibit at the World Peace Center in Verdun, France.