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

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.

Status:

#Journal

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”.

Despicable.

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

The above piece featuring my friend Mona Eltahawy went out to the Letterform Archive in San Francisco, which acquired it for its permanent collection along with a couple of process pieces, namely:

Didn't even know such a typography-focused artspace existed prior to this. Looking forward to paying them a visit once this pandemic is no more and it's cool to board planes again, which from the looks of things shouldn't be too far off. 🤞

2020 is coming to a close, and looking at the work that was done this year... y'know, not entirely a bad year! There are even a couple things not yet listed on the site that got done, but won't be announced till January. Would've liked to get more THE SOLAR GRID out the door, but hey, there's always next year (and hopefully ONLY next year!!!).

My resolution will likely involve getting distracted by less things and finally bringing THE SOLAR GRID to a close (though I must admit I'm feeling the nastiest urge to create more erotica, but it's totally possible that it's just the pandemic getting to me).

It's becoming clear to me that I am almost always attracted to things that involve a combination of art, rebellion, and sex. So it makes sense that that's exactly the type of art project I oughtta set out to do.

#Journal #Work

Temperature is down to 8 degrees Celsius (46 Fahrenheit), which may not be as cold as some other places, but it's cold enough for me. Cold enough to rock my snuggies outside with zero fucks given (yes, that's what the pants pictured above are called, yes).

My virtual talk with Kickstarter's Oriana Leckert for Society of Illustrators went online, and today I'm back to work on TSG06! A scene that takes place on Enceladus to be precise.

The other thing in the above sneak, the brush-strokey ornamental wing, that's part of another thing I should be able to share by next month I think.

Okay, more coffee, more drawing, all in my snuggies.

#Journal #Work

Yesterday was the first day for me to catch a breather in two very intense sleepless weeks. Spent it tending to all the things I'd had to neglect in the meantime: scrubbed the bathroom, tidied around the office, cleaned the studio garage, and responded to email. It was a good day.

I always love the comedown after the high of a good grind. Can't get one without the other.

It's been a period of music-related collaborations, the fruit of which are beginning to see the light.

FLAP MY WINGS by The Lazours is the first single from their upcoming album FLAP MY WINGS: SONGS FROM 'WE LIVE IN CAIRO', which revisits some of the key songs from their hit musical WE LIVE IN CAIRO. The album's title song, FLAP MY WINGS, is a powerful tribute to Khaled Saiid who's murder by Alexandrian police ignited the spark for the events that would topple Egyptian dictator of 30 years Hosni Mubarak.

YA HABAYEBNA by Ramy Essam is a kind of electro-rock remake of a track by original revolutionary Sheikh Imam (known for writing songs critical of Nasser's regime in the 60's as well as Sadat's in the 70's together with poet Ahmed Fouad Negm). The song asks friends and loved ones “Where are you? Do you still remember us?”, which can be taken as a call for help from those in prison, or a tune of longing from those in exile.

[FLAP MY WINGS dropped yesterday, and YA HABAYEBNA drops tonight! Also, another one I worked on for Ramy (EL AMIIS EL KAROO) dropped a few weeks back.]

#Journal #Work

It's been one helluva 1000mph week and it's still not over. Today is the day I deliver all assets for an animated music video. It is also the day I participate in this webinar hosted by the University of Edinburgh (“Disappointed Hopes: Reclaiming the Promise of Resistance”). Tomorrow I've got the Society of Illustrators talk together with Kickstarter's Oriana Leckert.

Mood:

But also: 💪

Above image, btw, is the cover art I did for new single from Ramy Essam, El Amiis El Karoo (“Flannel”), which you can find on Youtube and Spotify.

#journal #work

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