Skip to main content

Cairo Journals 2012 — 2 — Kalaam Faregh

There is an Egyptian phrase called kalaam faregh. Translated, it means ‘empty talk’.

One of the main reasons for my return was to discover the new culture scene in Cairo I had been hearing so much about from Germany. Over the year, I had attended, organised and participated in many events in Berlin related to the new voice that the Egyptian people had found. However, after a year of talking and spectating, I felt that much of what I was saying was repeating what I had picked up from the internet or other people without an opinion of my own about them. In other words, kalam faregh.

Luckily, my talk was about to become filled, in some fashion and I was about to farragh some new kalaam. Farragh has another meaning.

One of my main interests in ongoing Cairo has been the street art scene. Or graffiti scene. In pythonesque manner, a war of walls has erupted. The factions involved in the ongoing democratic process have revived a long tradition of leaving your mark wherever you go. Going back to kaabas and pilgrimage paintings, Egypt is decorated and enriched by many murals, some dating back centuries. They depict journeys and names, childrens wishes and beloved ones. 

Also an ancient tradition is the cutting and painting of stencils. They declaim, in the aftermath of Mad Graffiti Week, demonstrations and marches, the wishes of the sha'b (people) and multiply it easily and efficiently through spray paint and manpower, not excluding the Egyptian women from the activity. 

Ammar, Alaa, Hanna, Nil and the Boys have done some indescribable work there, putting all of their energies and enthusiasm into turning Streets into a cat-and mouse game with the white paint chasing the coloured paintings. Sitting with them and just listening to many stories of artistic battles they have won or lost. Mustamerra, as they say. 

I do hope the walls on Mohammad Mahomoud remain preserved to us all. So much argument has gone into them, both on the streets and on off, so many people involved by their presence and the work and discussion about them that the street should be declared an art zone. But more on that later. 

Farragh, in an arts context means to clear. A knife is used on a predawn shape, preferably on a thick piece of paper to free a section you wish to paint over. This is then applied to a surface of your choice. The paint leaves an impression on the surface. This is called a stencil. 

On a wall blocking a street, you will hopefully find a group of Munaqqabat with Minis. They may be joined by others and in different locations, but for now a small piece of kalaam has been left on the tetris blockades. If you see it, it means that those blocks are still there.*


Popular posts from this blog

HNS Diary 3: The Man Who Stole Nothing / الرجل الذي سرق المفيش

When Heba told me she had the prints, my first instinct was to burn them.
It had been a week since our first call concerning a series of golden silkscreen prints. She, Don and the manager of the gallery representing Heba had discovered them by accident at the Berlin Art Fair. The prints are rather unremarkable- a series of nine, subdued silkscreens of pictures taken off the internet, printed with a shimmering, golden hue. They reminded me of my grandmothers' furniture in Cairo. What they depicted, however, was very familiar to us- we had made it, and these were blatant copies of our documentation of the work on the Homeland set.
Set picture: Bottom left, next to the flag: This series does not represent the view of the artists.

What they had come across was a series by David Krippendorff entitled “This Show does not Represent the View of the Artist”, a tiny play on one of the slogans we used. I was somewhat flattered, at first, at this attempt at an homage, until I read the artists st…

COG II: Whose story is this anyway (2)

Caram on Games (COG) is an occasional ramble in which I discuss computer gaming, gaming culture and how I perceive them, in an attempt to talk about a medium that I've always been passionate about, or at least enjoyed. Every part is an exploration of thoughts, meaning that it comes together as it is written- so while they may meander for a while, a point will eventually be reached. Maybe. After a lot of words, and sometimes numbers. You have been warned- there will be a lot of waffle and fewer pictures than befits a visual medium. Now you've been warned twice. Enjoy!

There is a problem with writing about video games. Every time I do, I can't help but feel that this segment should be called "letters from the Matrix", that I might as well be discussing the systems and gameplay that underpin what we still agree to be our "real" lives. Is there a point to discussing the flat economy of traveling through Tamriel, when there are trade wars and very real econo…

A grain of rice can save the world…

…with a bit of help from all its other grains of rice friends.
Not being able to do decent research into nutrition forced me to get a bit creative with this one. And do actual maths. Thanks to Ugur & Silke for their help in this.
Extra Info: this is what a single grain of rice looks like close up:

from AMagill on flickr
I wonder if a series of single grain infographics would be would be interesting?