DUST: Egypt's Forgotten Architecture
“Dust” explores the conditions and relevance of empty architectural spaces in Egypt, presenting an entwined
dualism: dust as materiality that layers the city, literally tracing the passage of time upon urban objects – but also
as a temporal metaphor that registers these changes on the level of memories, both past and present.
Architecture constructed in Egypt in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – usually referred to as ‘Cosmopolitan
Architecture’ – is rapidly succumbing to neglect, a real estate frenzy and the overpopulation of the cities. These
factors lend particular urgency to documentation of these spaces. Since I first initiated this project
in 2006, a number of the locations depicted in her work have been demolished, while others have gone through a
process of renovation and modernization.
”Dust” is complex and multi‐layered in that its qualities not only span the artistic, but also have the
added value of documenting Egypt’s fading and forgotten architecture. In addition to the aesthetic value, this
series is also a valuable source of in‐depth information, baring long‐term witness to a country’s ongoing economic
and social changes. When I first embarked on this project in 2006, I was driven by curiosity. But with
Egypt coincidentally progressing though a momentous shift in its history, ”Dust” has come to illustrate an
economic stagnation, which has engulfed Egypt over the past three decades. My project underlines the
significance of documenting a country in its transformative phase, and highlights the urgency of reflecting on
Egypt’s history in order to understand its future.
“Dust” was completed in January 2011. The accompanying book , published by Dewi Lewis Publishing, UK in 2012, contains a total of 70 images from thirty locations in Egypt, including Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Minya, Esna, Port Said and villages around the Delta, as well as an essay by On Barak of Princeton University.