G A N Z E E R . T O D A Y

Every year I get in a mood. Every goddamn year, no matter how hard I try not to.

It's been 10 years. Ten years since the impossible was attempted. Ten years since got a taste of true freedom. Since we attempted to take ownership of our lives and alter our world to the better. Since ego was set aside for the greater collective.

Ten fucking years. I anticipated a few hiccups along the way, but 10 years?

Ten years.



Covid-living is starting to get to me (for like the 3rd or 4th time in the past year probably), so I've taken to fixing myself an elaborate cafe au lait on an almost daily basis now. Not quite bored enough to start messing with foam art, but if things persist I may just get there.

Only halfway through the first month of 2021, and already there are projects. Still more to surface over the next few weeks. Had a great editorial meeting with the Radix crew recently on marketing, production, and some slight restructuring pertaining to THE SOLAR GRID, which I should be able to get back to work on by February.

I have managed to resist all speaking engagements related to the 10th anniversary of the Egyptian uprising of 2011, except this one: FLAP MY WINGS: 10 YEARS SINCE TAHRIR SQUARE because what The Lazours have done with their LIVE IN CAIRO musical and subsequent FLAP MY WINGS album is a truly phenomenal way to carry forth the narrative of the revolution. I can only be so proud to be involved in any way.

Somewhat related is the Freedom Initiative's Ideas Don't Die creative contest, for which I'm happy to serve as judge in 2D Art category.

In other news: Child has unlocked the power of the full roll over. Farewell to the days when we could happily ignore him without worry of him potentially hurting himself.

#Journal #Work

It may not look like it yet, but the illustration I'm working on is for an essay that feels very timely with everything going on right now, penned by none other than Ahmed Naji.

Background listening is The Ottoman History Podcast, in particular a surprisingly rich episode on Mamluk Cairo. Surprising because it gets into some delicious details I knew little to nothing about; like the wandering carnivalesque peoples known as Al Ghurabaa` (“The Strangers”) and the odd jobs they performed, the fluid mix of tongues they spoke, and perhaps most interestingly of all... their printing.

“The Strangers” were the first to introduce printing to Egypt apparently, likely some form of woodblock printing (tin matrices were also employed), in languages ranging from Arabic to Coptic and Hebrew (and quite possibly more). Excited to learn more on the subject matter from Kristina Richardson's upcoming book; GYPSIES IN THE MEDIEVAL ISLAMIC WORLD: A HISTORY OF THE GHURABA, forthcoming with Bloomsbury Publishers.

#Journal #Work #Podcast #Research

It was in March last year when the Getty Museum in Los Angeles got in touch to record an interview on mythology, propaganda, and culture. This in conjunction with an exhibition they'd been planning on Assyrian art.

Armed with that recording and a few images of my work, Logan then went off and put together this short but striking video:

A powerful work of propaganda in and of itself. 🔥

#Journal #Work

Woke up this morning to some excellent (and somewhat surprising) news.

(To be expounded upon later so I don't jinx it.)

Here's hoping it's a good omen for the year and decade to come (not just to me but to everyone, really everyone). ❤️

Slept all of 3 hours last night (this morning?), for reasons far less exciting than what would typically be associated with NYE, which I will attempt to remedy for [probably] the remainder of the day.



Orson Welles: Egyptian art and culture dominated the aesthetics of the First [French] Empire.

Henry Jaglom: I didn't know that.

Orson Welles: Study the interior decoration. It's full of Egyptian elements, just as the Deuxieme Empire of Louis Napoleon drew on Arabic and Algerian sources for exoticism. Just as the English used India for exoticism. Paris is full of imitation Arabic places left over from the Second Empire.

A rather trivial passage from MY LUNCHES WITH ORSON which sent me down a rabbit hole of Egyptian revivalism, finally narrowed down to a few books I'd like to probe, namely:

The question is, of course, how on Earth I'm ever going to find the time to read all those. And... it's clearly time I got myself a local library card.

#Journal #Research #Reads

A couple of pieces of mine are featured in Human Rights Foundation's ART IN PROTEST online exhibition, namely:

While I appreciate the foundation's efforts to highlight the work of artists attempting to speak truth to power, I must say I am rather astonished that in their survey of “A Year In Global Protest Art” as indicated on their website, their list of 15 countries represents every continent on Earth except three: Europe, North America, and Australia—which I find wholly appalling.

This is, after all, 2020; the year in which the Black Lives Matter movement was revived with vigor in the wake of George Floyd's murder by police and sparked protests of unprecedented mass in almost every metropolitan city across the United States, inspiring similar solidarity protests across the entire planet! Neglecting Europe discounts the plight of Polish women fighting for abortion rights and the over 100 protests in France critical of the country's new security bill. And what of the protests staged by Aboriginal Australians? Who only demand the end of their murder at the hands of Europe's colonial descendants.

This very obviously non-accidental oversight shows how the “Human Rights Foundation” view on human rights is a completely politicized and racialized one wherein violators of human rights can only ever be governments helmed by “brown, black, and yellow people” but never ever the righteous oh so civilized “whites”.


Happy fucking new year.

#Journal #Work

“After a long residence in Egypt and intimate association with all classes of the people, from the dwellers in palaces to those who inhabit mud huts or wander over the desert, my conviction is strong that—whether Copt, Christian, or Mahometan—the people of Egypt largely derive their religious beliefs and their customs from the superstitions of the ancient Egyptians,” says William Loring in his A CONFEDERATE SOLDIER IN EGYPT. Although not widely known by the everyday Egyptian, this is something acknowledged by most Egyptian Egyptologists.

One of Loring's most interesting observations is his witness to Moulid El-Sayyed El Badawi in Tanta sometime in the late 19th century, a twice-a-year affair (not entirely sure why) wherein the birth of a Muslim “saint” is celebrated (twice a year though?) where he is buried. Every town in Egypt celebrates one or more such “saint”, attributed to “Sufism” practices (otherwise described as “Islamic Mysticism”) which tends to be viewed as rather heretic by more orthodox Islam (wherein only God and the Prophet are to be venerated, and even then only in the abstract). Things like elaborate tombs and shrines are seen to be a carry over from the ancient practices of the polytheism of old. Festivities entail a full week of religious song, dance, poetry, storytelling, and drugs. Essentially, an older, more culturally ingrained religious Burning Man of sorts. In ancient times, each town in Egypt was typically associated with a particular deity, and it is thought that not so dissimilar celebrations took place back then as well, probably around the same times of year, but in reverence of the deities of old instead of these newer figures associated with their current belief system. Personally, I've never attended any of these. Organized religion and I don't do well together. What it says about history and culture though I find quite interesting. I have a few self-identifying Sufi friends who have described some of these wild festivities to me, but nothing I've heard of in contemporary times comes close to what Loring describes to have witnessed in the late 19th Century Tanta:

“Not only Egypt, but all Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia send religious votaries and merchants with silks, satins, embroideries, and every kind of merchandise to tempt the Eastern buyer. Amid the throngs who come with merchandise come also those who bring daintier wares in human form—beautiful houris, virgins sent forth by their Circassian or Georgian mothers to find an asylum in the land of the Nile. These maidens have been carefully nurtured to be made marketable, and are happy if they succeed in becoming the property —wife or slave, as the case may be—of some rich Bey or Pacha. It is still the custom—though now slightly veiled —to fix a price upon these young women, the sum varying with the beauty of the merchandise. The girl whose marriage in this market is pecuniarily successful is happy in the thought that she has done well for herself and her parents, and her success induces her young kinswomen to follow her from their bleak homes in the Caucasus to the sunnier climate of Egypt. Her sisters look forward to marrying in the same way, while her brothers are, by her favor, educated in the military schools for employment in the army or the civil service. She thus provides for the future of her kinsmen by her marriage, often raising the sons of an obscure family to positions of profit and honor. Tanta has of late years become a considerable mart for European commerce. The remarkable growth of cotton and sugar culture in the rich valleys around the city has greatly increased the value of the land and the attractiveness of the region.

“The Syrian, Turk, Ethiopian, Algerian, Tunisian, European, Greek, Persian, American, and Jew, with many other strange people, pass in review, the head-dress being the distinguishing mark of faith and nationality. Men of all races make up this varied and extraordinary scene. Tired of wandering through this sea of humanity, and suffocated with the myriads of smells, one gladly leaves these material things to seek an asylum near the shrine of the renowned saint, who brings so many thousands of other saints and sinners to do honor to his tomb, many of whom seek the aid of his miraculous power.”

And, perhaps more interestingly:

“Tanta during the fair is a scene of joyous mirth, and the women—usually caged birds, but now let loose—enter gayly into the festivities. In thorough disguise, they are lost to sight in the vast multitude. At the end of eight days, the time allotted for prayer and for the intercession of the saint, they return home in the full belief that their devotions have been blessed. I am sorry to write that the picturesque scene is too often marred by the licentiousness so common among Orientals, and Tanta yearly witnesses orgies only comparable with those of the ancient city of Busiris, which was situated a few miles distant in this valley. It was there the fête of Isis was celebrated by all Egypt, and truth makes it necessary to say that the modern city, in following the traditions of centuries, rivals her ancient sister in those scenes which made the modest Father of History blush when writing the amazing story of the worship of that famous goddess.”

There are descriptions of loosely veiled women who separate from their husbands to indulge in these week long festivities only to be united with them when it's all over, which brings to mind echoes of the masquerade carnivals of 16th century Venice, themselves carrying echoes of the ancient festivities of Dionysia and Bacchanal.

One of the “powers” associated with this Islamic mystic saint who, born in Fez (Morocco) some 2500 miles from his resting place in Egypt's Tanta is—like the ancient goddess Isis, and Greece's Dionysus as well as Rome's Bacchus—the power of fertility.

When all it really is is the power of uninhibited orgies; the accumulation of as wide a variety of male sperm as humanly possible over the course of 8 wildly intoxicated days.

(Above left picture is Tanta circa 1932, sourced from Masr30.blogspot.com, above right shows two Egyptian “peasants” sometime in the early 1900s, sourced from Grand-bazaar.tumblr.com)

#Journal #Reads #LG

“Just below Aboukir there was a massive dike, erected by the ancients to separate the sea from the shore, and in the course of centuries a large tract of land was reclaimed. The splendid engineering skill of the English opened this obstruction, created the present vast expanse of waste, and covered it with destructive salt water, in the merciful attempt to drown the French out of Egypt, when these most Christian nations were so intent upon annihilating each other. No less than sixty villages were submerged by the ocean and their teeming population driven from their homes to starve. The waters still cover the once fertile fields. How much more magnanimous it would have been if England in our own time, instead of driving Ismail from his home and battling against Arabi Pacha, who fought for the liberties of his race, had paid into the Egyptian treasury the value of the great property and territory thus destroyed.”

From W.W. Loring's A CONFEDERATE SOLDIER IN EGYPT which I started looking at for research for a [far] future thing, but couldn't stop reading.

#Journal #Reads

Finally made it to a spread I've had in mind since I first conceived of THE SOLAR GRID some 5 years ago. Feels great to finally relieve my mind of retaining it.

Still, a lot more stuff trapped in there looking for a release.

#Journal #Work #TheSolarGrid #Comix

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