El Gouna Image Week rediscovers the heritage of Upper Egypt

The first edition focuses on everyday life, architecture and cuisine

Dozens of Egyptian professional and amateur photographers are now active in the coastal city of El Gouna in the Red Sea Governorate (southeast of Cairo), to participate in a large package of various events and activities within the framework of “El Gouna Image Week” in its first edition, including exhibitions, workshops, panel discussions and lectures on the art of photography. In many fields, such as fashion, architecture, food coordination, as well as documentary and journalistic photography, this week’s photographic program is led by an exhibition that presents 9 cultural projects from including the heart of Upper Egypt under the title “Narrative”.

“The idea stemmed from an invitation presented to us by the Orascom Hotels company, with the aim of launching an educational and training activity specialized in photography to serve as a photography platform that promotes photography in open and tourist spaces allow without restrictions and complicated procedures,” according to Marwa Abu Laila, director of the Fotopia Foundation, which organizes the week. She added to Asharq Al-Awsat: “We welcomed the idea because it contributes to the development of the photography industry in Egypt, as it helps to achieve learning and communication with professionals and amateurs in this field, and we worked together to implement it.”

This photographic event identifies with the concept of the Photography Week in Cairo, which is organized by the same institution, but here it takes on a special character stemming from the tourist spot it embraces on the Red Sea coast, where the picturesque nature and the wonderful weather. According to Abu Laila, “When we go to El-Gouna, we have to show the works of artists whose works are presented in Cairo, so we also took care of the geographical meeting, and we decided to bring the artists of Upper Egypt to the event, which rarely sheds light on them.”

Surprisingly, it does not depend on the photographers who participate to enjoy the activities of the week. Visitors to the city now and until tomorrow, July 23 (July), can experience a series of attractive and lively activities related to the art of photography, including “photowalk”, or photography while taking an early morning walk and workshops For photography related to hospitality, architecture, interior design and lifestyle, cinematography, fashion and accessories, catering and cooking, in addition to a series of lectures, theatre- and film activities held in equipped halls and in open spaces, talks, workshops, live demonstrations, exhibitions, and seminars Dating, and the provision of free photography websites.

Photography for art and photography for commercial purposes also represent an important aspect of the week’s goals, so the event program was rich and integrated, according to Marwa Abu Laila’s description: “We set our eyes on multiple goals, although the main goal was education , we celebrated the investment of photography in tourism promotion as well. Such an event makes El Gouna a destination for a large number of artists and photography lovers.”

One of the Al-Marmah shows (El Gouna Week Administration)

El Gouna Week transformed the place into a large open exhibition of various photographic masterpieces, as it includes about 5 different exhibitions, including the “People from Cairo” exhibition, which revolves around the nobility of the capital, and the exhibition “From Here and There,” by artist Karim Al-Hayyal on “mosque rugs” donated by worshipers. They form inspiring, spiritual spots with beautiful designs and colors,” according to his description of them.

But the event would not have gained all this privacy without the strong and influential presence of the level in it, including an interactive external exhibition entitled “Allowed to approach” by Ali Zaraei of Minya, and his idea is to discuss about the group of images between the artist and the audience during which he narrates his experience and experiences and talks about his tools and his artistic style.

Also, after the visitor passes the outer courtyard of the German hall in El Gouna and sees the solo exhibition of the artist Mahmoud El Hawary (from Qena) and dives into the environment of Upper Egypt, including costumes, folk games, daily life rituals, and various social and religious events, the visitor can move inside the hall to feel that he is in the heart of the Egyptian South, through the group exhibition “Narration… Upper Egypt Version”, which about 90 photographs of 9 cultural include photographic projects.

Artist Ahmed Mostafa, coordinator, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The value of El Gouna Week is known only to those who live in Upper Egypt and suffer from marginalization!; It presents artists who find it difficult to move to Cairo to display their work to present their creativity in a great celebration with a variety of activities in which big names and long experiences participate, meaning to bring out the artists from the south to raise and encourage them to learn more and acquire skills.”

Mostafa continues: “It is certain that if it had been held in Cairo, the audience would have attended more, but which of the artists can go a lot to the capital, given the long distance that can take more than 10 hours by bus, while El-Gouna is near us.”

The exhibition includes illustrated stories from the governorates of Upper Egypt (Bani Suef, Qena, Fayoum, Assiut, Minya, Sohag and Luxor), through which the recipient learns, for example, about the extraction of honey according to the old method in Upper Egypt by Ahmed Mustafa, the story of Minya quarries by Adel Issa, and Tire On the births of Yahya Ahmed, and the story of a child who participates in helping his family in the fields of Sahel Abdel Rahman, and drying tomatoes in Luxor by Muhammad Shukri.

Mustafa Al-Saidi attends the El-Gouna Week as a bridge of communication and civilization between cultures, as well as a strong booster for the tourism movement: “The pictures reflect the customs, traditions, details and heritage art that are very rich in humanity have been passed down between generations over hundreds of years, to prove that there are places in Egypt worth visiting besides museums. and effects.”

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