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.*




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Two minutes: Addiction is Life is Yellow.

Addiction is a much-maligned, muddy word. Until (ca.) the 18th century, it connoted tendency and drive, rather than (self-) affliction. Opium changed that- reportedly. 
Lives described as addiction: to the approval and company of peers, to power and its accumulation, to enjoyment and personal satisfaction (to some people, this may be suffering) and to basics such as air, food, water… and possibly even living. When framed this way, and defined in reference to this word, life suddenly becomes a selfish pursuit in which the living will do anything to get their fix, devoted addicts all. 
On that note: Marylin Manson - I Don't Like the Drugs, But the Drugs Like Me. 
Also: Addiction is apparently yellow. 

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?

Two minutes: Enemy of the tribe

There was, once upon a time, a small tribe that lived in a deep jungle. They were migrant farmers, traveling from cultivation spot to cultivation spot, depending on the season and their fancy. In their absence, these spots were often used by other tribes, with the understanding that they would set aside small amount of their harvest. This symbiosis benefited all involved, keeping the soil fresh and turned, providing sustenance for the inhabitants of the jungle 
Their traditions compelled them to hospitality and friendliness toward visitors- their words for strangers and visitors translated into "friends-who-are-not-yet-friends" and "visitors-and-we-are-their-friend". If they didn't like someone, they would become "Friend-that-is-not-talked-to", usually adding "until we talk again", implying that ire was temporary and a return to friendship imminent. 
One day, they were visited by a random anthropologist. Fascinated by the vocabulary their w…