Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Denis Dailleux | Egypt

Photo © Denis Dailleux - All Rights Reserved
Every now and then, I chance on photographic work which fills me with nostalgia, and viewing the monochromatic images of Cairenes and other Egyptians by Denis Dailleux brings me back memories of growing up in a leafy suburb of what was at that a cosmopolitan capital. Unimaginable now of course, but at that time it was more European than Arab...and secularism was the norm. 

And Denis says it well in an interview: "I left Cairo more than a year, but return to it on a regular basis. I still love this chaotic city that spellbinds me, and I'm extremely sad of its current situation. However, if there is positive news out of Egypt, it is that of the courageous youths who got a glimpse of freedom."

I stopped at length at every of his photographs...easily imagining what these people would tell me, how they lived, would they share their troubles, their sufferings. Some smile, but others are stoic. A woman squatting in her kitchen looks at the camera with incredibly sorrowful eyes. A laughing father hugs his child, whose future is uncertain. A man sits at a sidewalk cafe, his mind seemingly elsewhere. 

There is no joie de vivre, no joy of life, in any of these photographs. Egyptians were reputed for their sense of humor, their exuberance, their hospitality and their kindness. Where has it gone? All I see from these photographs, supplemented by the barrage of disturbing news out of Egypt, are people who have been ground to dust by life exigencies, by bad luck, by governmental mismanagement, by poverty, by illiteracy, by inequities, by corruption, by intolerance and by religious misinterpretations.

That's all I see.

Denis Dailleux is a French photographer, who lived in Cairo for many years. His photographic work is imbued by the strong bonds he develops with those he frames with his camera. His passion for people has led him to take up portraiture as his preferred means of representation. He has patiently constructed unique portraits of people in his beloved Cairo