An Egyptian-born photographer, now based in Paris, has returned to the country of his birth, hoping that his lens will find the answers to two questions - “What is Egypt?" and "What does it mean to be Egyptian?”
For Egyptian-born Paris-based photographer Nabil Boutros, the camera has been a way to record spaces “where people can come in or they have just left”.
Boutros came to Paris in 1973 to study at the school of Beaux-Arts and, after working with paints and set design, he turned to photography.(...)
He stopped all his activities in France and travelled around Egypt for three months with the sole purpose of answering the questions “What is Egypt?" and "What does it mean to be Egyptian?”
Influenced by the work of August Sander, whose portraits between the two world wars captured ordinary people in a brief moment, Boutros wanted to be able to show ordinary Egyptians.
“I went to very popular places where I have never been before, I travelled a lot in Egypt to talk with people and the camera was a medium format,” explains Boutros. This was his first contact with the country and from it he produced over 400 portraits. But only about 100 of them were shown at the Guggenheim museum in 1996, for an exhibition on African photography of the 1940s to today. They were also shown at outlets of the French store Fnac.(...)
When the Egyptian revolution erupted soon afterwards "We are all Egyptian" became a popular slogan and many protesters carried Boutros's poster.
What began as a way to reconnect with his country of origin has become a chance to create images of irony that serve as a commentary on the changing society in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries.