Cairo Street Art – Downtown Graffiti

Mickey, Bush & the Bomb by Keizer
Mickey, Bush & the Bomb by Keizer

‘Excuse me,’ he walks up to me as I hesitantly put my camera down, ‘What does this picture mean?’

He points at the Keizer stencil of Mickey Mouse on the grey wall. Mahmoud Bassiouny Street on a Saturday afternoon is crowded, and people seem still wary of any snap-happy camera-toting thug like me. Who knows, I could be another Facebook-loving Zionist spy.

‘I think that’s Mickey Mouse,’ I say helpfully.

‘Yes but what does it mean? And who is that man next to him?’

He’s bald with a graying walrus moustache, probably in his mid-forties, his full cheeks sweating as he fans at his pin-striped pink shirt.

‘I’m not quite sure,’ I say politely, wishing I could go back to my camera, but he appears adamant for an answer. ‘Maybe it’s a president? It could be George Bush.’

‘Yes but what is George Bush doing with Mickey Mouse? I like this picture, I walk past it every day, but I wish there’d be some writing explaining it so that I could understand.’

How do I explain dichotomy or irony in Arabic? My mind goes blank.

‘Err… maybe the guy who made this wants you to think about it and come up with your own idea?’ I offer weakly.

He seems even more baffled. ‘Well I don’t want to figure it out myself, it’s much easier if he just tells me what it means so I know what to think.’

I ponder on whether I should bring up the whole we-lived-under-a-dictatorship-that-told-us-what-to-think-for-thirty-years-arent-you-happy-to-think-for-yourself-for-once theory, but I don’t. I’d rather move on, plus something about his walrus moustache makes him look like an NDP fan. Yes, I’m racist like that. I judge your political affiliation by your facial hair.

‘I mean it’s nice and everything,’ he continues eagerly, ‘But not as nice as the beautiful flags they paint everywhere, so pretty. You know, I was in Tahrir every day, I was one of the shabab of the revolution…’

Ah yes. The most overused line that launches every conversation since January 25th. Somehow I get stuck between a man and the wall I want to photograph as he talks for a full twenty minutes without interruption about Tahrir, Alaa Aswany, what he thinks of Baradei, the elections, the Muslim Brotherhood, yadayada, while I check my phone, make coughing noises, fiddle with my camera lense, shift from one foot to another, check my phone again. Eventually, he offers me his phone number and I politely say goodbye.

The camera never leaves my protective hands, held up against my chest like ammunition, pointing directly at him.

Snow White with a Gun by Keizer on Mahmoud Bassiouny Street
Snow White with a Gun by Keizer on Mahmoud Bassiouny Street
Atom by Keizer on Mahmoud Bassiony Street
Atom by Keizer on Mahmoud Bassiony Street
Kill Your Television by Keizer
Kill Your Television by Keizer
You Are Beautiful by Keizer on Mahmoud Bassiony Street
You Are Beautiful by Keizer on Mahmoud Bassiony Street
Graffiti by Charles Akl and Amr Gamal
Graffiti by Charles Akl and Amr Gamal
Graffiti of Amr Beheiry, imprisoned protester, on electricity box off Mahmoud Bassiony Street.
Graffiti of Amr Beheiry, imprisoned protester, on electricity box off Mahmoud Bassiony Street.
Veiled & unveiled women with halos and mouth masks. I'd love to know who made this.
Veiled & unveiled women with halos and mouth masks. I’d love to know who made this.
Tantawi by El Teneen
Tantawi by El Teneen
May 27th Molotov Cocktail by El Teneen on Kasr El Nil
May 27th Molotov Cocktail by El Teneen on Kasr El Nil
Uprising against the Army by El Teneen, note the crescent and the cross on the hand.
Uprising against the Army by El Teneen, note the crescent and the cross on the hand.
Sad Panda with an AK47 on wall of El Horreya
Sad Panda with an AK47 on wall of El Horreya

On the wall of a public bathroom on Abdel Salam Aref across from El Horreya, Sad Panda sits next to a graffiti stencil by Xist of Amr Beheiry, imprisoned Tahrir protester

    Martyr Mural by Ganzeer of Islam Raafat, 18 yrs old, run over by microbus during protest on Jan 28.

    Tantawi Underwear with helicopters by Adham Bakry, appropriately above trash
Tantawi Underwear with helicopters by Adham Bakry, appropriately above trash

Mr. X  (note the scribbles Mortada Mansour the Crazy) on AUC wall, Yousef El Guindy Street.

Chess Mate by El Teneen
Chess Mate by El Teneen
Mural by Hany Khaled with a poster by Mohamed Alaa
Mural by Hany Khaled with a poster by Mohamed Alaa

In the name of Egypt

For exact locations of graffiti in Cairo, check out the Cairo Street Art Map.

11 thoughts on “Cairo Street Art – Downtown Graffiti”

  1. just to let you know, snowwhite with the gun is used in germany and other countrys as a symbol to protest against lookism and stuff like that (http://alturl.com/iekcz).

    i don’t know if it’s intended by the artist, but just to complete your input

    greetings and thanks blogging

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