IN THE SHADOW OF THE PYRAMIDS | The Photobook Review #9 | by Rahaab Allana | Fall 2015
In the Shadow of the Pyramids documents Egyptians’ resistance to state control, surveillance, unchecked corruption, and, in some respects, the global economic crisis, all of which create an outer context for the mesh of people seeking liberation. “How do you tell a story when the plot keeps changing?” El-Tantawy asks. But there are also other protests insinuated here, such as the 2008 workers’ strike, initiated in the city of Mahalla el-Kubra; this predated and inspired the sentiment at Tahrir in January 2011, when protestors demanded the overthrow of then-president Hosni Mubarak.
BEYOND HERE IS NOTHING | by Loring Knoblauch | July 2007
Comments/Context: As photobook titles go, Beyond Here Is Nothing is among the more bleakly pessimistic names that I have encountered in recent years. The cover of Laura El-Tantawy’s newest book offers these ominous words placed across the image of a narrow vertical crack in a rich red curtain, with a tiny sliver of bright light peeking through. Where some might attribute some level of promise or hope to what potentially lies beyond the confines of that curtain, El-Tantawy’s title makes it immediately clear that at least in the world we are about to enter, the deflating sense of being trapped inside is more what we can expect to encounter.
Photographing the Egyptian Revolution | by Edward Siddons | August 2016
Five years on from the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, all is not as it should be. As recently reported by the Economist, youth unemployment sits at over 40%, university graduates are less likely to be employed than their illiterate peers and unrest is brewing. "Dreaming is almost a luxury in Egypt right now," muses Laura El-Tantawy, the Egyptian photographer and creator of the Deutsche-Börse-nominated photobook In The Shadow of the Pyramids. "An entire generation is being forced to settle."
Visions of Self, Nation and Revolution | by Sarah Jilani | May 2016
"I don’t believe in neutrality in photography," states Egyptian photographer Laura El-Tantawy. "For me, being a part of what’s happening is very important." The happening she is referring to is the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, which forms the focus of her first photobook, In The Shadow Of The Pyramids – a tome that has consequently earned her a nomination for the prestigious Deutsche Börse Prize. Tantawy is one of four nominated image-makers flying the flag for a new kind of visual storytelling, weaving parallel narratives of selfhood and nation.
Portraits of Strength: Seven Extraordinary Women | Safeya Sayed Shedeed | by Laura El-Tantawy & Jessie Wender| March 2016
Somewhere between fear and sorrow there are often tears. I have seen pools of them. Normally I put my camera down. It feels like I am imposing on a deeply private and intimate moment. Safeya Sayed Shedeed is an Egyptian mother whose son was killed by police on January 28, 2011, a day locals dubbed the “Friday of Rage.” It was three days after the start of the protests that eventually unseated former strongman Hosni Mubarak. Safeya was sitting against the summer’s scorching asphalt, dressed in black from head to toe, as is customary in Egypt when one is in mourning. Sometimes the black is never replaced by another color, a sign the heart is still in deep sorrow even though the soul is trying to recover. “I want to avenge my son,” she told me. “Who will get my son’s rights back?” Safeya was among a group of women who lost loved ones during the violent protests. once-great city – and hint at the wider story of post-industrial America
The Shadow of the Pyramids: Laura El-Tantawy’s Egyptian Journey | fotoblog #1| by Sue Steward | September 2015
For our meeting, Laura and I headed to the grandiose Zamalek district where we caught a Costa coffee because cafes on the banks of the Nile were closed or abandoned. Emptied tourist boats bobbed while we discussed the current crisis in Egypt and studied her photographs from the Cairo protests in Tahrir [Liberation] Square. That vast space is known to everyone there for January 25th, 2011 where hundreds of thousands of protesters began to shake the country just two months after Tunisia’s birth of the Arab Spring. Tents and flags and masses of people singing and shouting filled the air with joy and hope, but later on, fear. The intention was to eradicate the corrupt, brutal President, Hosni Mubarak and it worked: he was imprisoned in 2013.
Beyond Here Is Nothing | by Stephan Vanthuyne
These lines from the poet Czeslaw Milosz, who following World War II moved from Poland to the United States to escape the Communist regime, come to mind when looking at Beyond Here Is Nothing by Laura El-Tantawy. Having grown up between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United States herself, and having experienced the turmoil during the protests in Cairo in 2011, this book is a deeply-personal contemplation on identity, home and the desire to belong.
Beyond Here Is Nothing cby Jessie Bond | April 2017
There is always something obstructing a clear view in El-Tantawy’s images, creating a sense of being inside looking out, or not being able to get close enough. People appear, but they are silhouetted or only present as shadows, we cannot see faces or expressions. There is always an absence. To an extent they are reminiscent of Saul Leiter’s iconic colour photographs that framed strangers on the streets of New York, documenting a feeling of isolation.
Other Articles and Reviews