Join us on Saturday, November 20 at 7pm for an artist talk and Q&A session with Roger Anis about his latest photography projects, Oh Mysterious Nile…Will You Be Immortal!, Shaabi Beaches, and Marseille Le Métissage. This event has limited seating, so RSVP to secure your spot!
Oh Mysterious Nile…Will You Be Immortal!
"Ah, for your terrible secret and your strange wandering wave
oh Nile, Oh wizard of the unseen
Immortal River song"
–– Mohamed Abdel Wahab, artist, 1954
We recognize the immortality of the "Eternal River” in our consciousness, but today this eternity has become confused between security and absolute truth, in light of the environmental and political challenges that confront its path.
I used to meet the Nile River at the closest point from my small city in southern Egypt, and when I left my city and moved to the capital, every time I came back to visit my family, visiting my beach was no less important than seeing them. My emotional attachment to the river is shared by almost most Egyptians. But standing on the land was no longer enough to answer my questions, so I embarked on a river cruise in which I sought a deeper and more comprehensive knowledge, transcending the poetics of sunrise and sunset. In my project, I try to look as objectively as possible towards our water’s future. I first began to go back a little bit on the historical and geographical level to establish a balanced vision regarding the reconfiguration of the river for itself more than once, to the political conflicts and the environmental changes that play a decisive role today in determining the future of the river: our future. What I have done is only the beginning of a greater journey, in a river rich with different layers of challenges, and endless details that are renewed every day, like the renewal of its many pages and colors.
The Arabic word ‘Shaabi’ is a reference to social class, standards, popularity, behavior, culture, and traditional communities. While economic strain hits many in the country financially, Egyptians always manage to spend at least one day of summer on the beach. This layer of Egyptian society is explored through the portraiture of local layman and families who travel hours away from their cities and villages in buses or trains to have a leisurely visit to the beach. Ras El Bar, Gamasa, and Baltim on the Mediterranean coast make up the majority of public beaches that locals visit. Beach-going traditions, like having the music blasting, colorful swimwear, and food are present in both public and private beaches in different ways, each becoming signifiers for their respective social class.
Marseille Le Métissage
The word 'Shaabi' for me in Egypt and other places in the Arabic region describes one class, one layer of society, which was my understanding. But is it the same everywhere? Or is there something different? I wanted to hear people's stories, and see new geographies, and observe the colors of the water there. I spent two months moving between beaches in Marseille. I was amazed at how diverse it is there, with people of all classes, colors and creeds finding their leisurely free time on the same beachside. The water is very liberating, and I witnessed this in Marseille where people sat next to each other but still enjoyed their own individuality, like a little utopia. While generalizations like this might seem naive about the whole city, the harmonious relationship between the water, the beach, and its diverse visitors finding safety and space among one another told a compelling story.
"I have been all of my life living by the Mediterranean, in Alexandria, Tunisia, Lebanon and visited most places by the Mediterranean but Marseille is my final destination... It's a place where you can find everybody together in one place. C'est les metissage," Myriam told me looking toward the sea from her terrace in Malmusque.
About the Artist
Roger Anis is an Egyptian photojournalist and documentary photographer. He received his bachelor in fine arts from Egypt and started his career as a photojournalist in 2010, where he worked with different newspapers and international news agencies. In 2014, Roger was named the winner for the first Reuters Microsoft mobile photo award and his work was exhibited in Egypt and internationally. He received a degree in photojournalism from the Danish School of Media & Journalism in Denmark in 2015. Roger works on photo stories to expose social issues to wider audiences. Currently Roger is learning about different visual mediums that he can combine with his photography and is expanding into filmmaking.