Tag Archives: keizer

Women in Graffiti: A Tribute to the Women of Egypt

Pharaonic women in battle by Alaa Awad
Pharaonic women in battle by Alaa Awad

It’s a battle, being a woman in an Arab country, but perhaps the dire conditions makes us fighters. Since January 25, so many foreign reporters have waxed on about the awakening of Arab women in the Arab Spring; and how the revolutions liberated us/made us wake up and smell the coffee/made us throw off our headscarves and run happily through the meadows.

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Writing About Graffiti in Cairo- One Year On

‘Thawretna Hatekmal’ Our revolution will be completed by KIM

If this post comes across as offensive, arrogant or downright nasty to anyone, I apologise in advance; I literally woke up on the wrong side of bed and pulled a shoulder, so I’m cranky; plus this matter has been on my mind for several months now.

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January 25 – The Anniversary: Graffiti

Have You been Vindicated? added next to mural of Tarek Abdel Latif

Continue reading January 25 – The Anniversary: Graffiti

Conversation with Ganzeer: the Tank, Buddha and Mad Graffiti Week

If you Google search Cairo Street Art, Ganzeer’s name is your top result. Countless interviews and features on the artist follow. As arguably the most recognized name on Cairo’s art scene today, it’s no surprise that Ganzeer is the most sought-after interview subject and reference on graffiti in Cairo.

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The Wave Against Graffiti – We Ba3deen?

Graffiti is not meant to be permanent; but it is meant to produce a reaction, even if that reaction means removing it because it’s offensive, or an eyesore.  However, when you’re a Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo that teaches art, it’s a little strange that you remove the post-jan25 graffiti your students and friends have made on your walls, no?

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This Is Not Graffiti -Opens at Townhouse Factory Space, Cairo

After two months of seriously hard work, the exhibition ‘This Is Not Graffiti’ opened last night at Townhouse Gallery’s Factory Space in Downtown Cairo.

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This Is Not Graffiti: Group Exhibition at Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art

If you take graffiti off a street wall and put it inside a confined space, is it still graffiti? Does street art maintain its value when you remove the noise, the faces, and the life of the streets and put it on a safe wall?

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Pop Goes Graffiti – The Faces of Cairo Street Art

Artist Shank signs his name with a figure that somehow reminds me of Gorillaz pop art.

Lately, the graffiti I’ve stumbled upon around Cairo seems to be predominantly faces of  pop icons, political figures and cartoon characters, mostly Western references but with several Egyptian icons as well. It’s an exciting and eclectic mix of Ghandi and Batman, Baradei and astronauts.

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Graffiti War – The Street Versus Pepsi

So a little revolution happened. The streets filled up, people yelled, a tyrant was dethroned and the world media fixated on Egypt’s younger generation, saying nice (though patronizing) things about us for once.

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An Evening on The Streets With Keizer

His car stinks of spray cans. The back seat is filled with enough aerosol cans to make a pyromaniac weep with joy. If he were ever stopped and searched by the police, he’d have a field day explaining the bottles, posters, surgical gloves and tape. Continue reading An Evening on The Streets With Keizer

New Graffiti in Cairo – Nighttime Stalking

I think I prefer the streets of Cairo to its people. After the hours of fuming traffic and deafening horns, hostile faces watching and asking questions, I’m finally left in peace after midnight, standing on an empty side street under the orange lamplight, photographing new pieces of graffiti. Continue reading New Graffiti in Cairo – Nighttime Stalking

Cairo Graffiti -For Whom Exactly?

Ryu versus M.Bison by CBJ on AUC wall, Mohamed Mahmoud Street

‘Stop taking photographs of this, go to a museum,’ he mutters as he walks past me.

I’m standing in front of the American University in Cairo’s library wall, photographing a graffiti piece depicting video game characters Ryu and Mr. Bison, the latter wearing a Tantawi face that has been neatly slashed with red paint.

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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.

Cairo Street Art After the Revolution: Zamalek

Boy with a Paintbucket stencil, on intersection between Merashly and Taha Hussein.

It’s not that street art never existed in Cairo before January 25th; it’s just that it never breathed this vibrantly before. There’s something raw, quick, witty and unpredictable about street art that gives an identity to the city; be it New York City, Barcelona, London or Cairo now.

Continue reading Cairo Street Art After the Revolution: Zamalek