Maha Maamoun

Maha Maamoun: Cairoscapes – Untitled #1 & Untitled #5, 2003
Courtesy of Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg


The format of the photos and their lack of depth of field are reminiscent of a frieze. In ancient Egypt, this image form was used to transmit epic narratives (in burial chambers, for example, where the exploits of the dead are carved in stone).
Maamoun may also have been inspired by the panorama. This format originates from the Age of Enlightenment and aims at the whole, at the overall view of a city, for example. This still worked for 18th-century Rome or Paris, but the claim fails in the case of the African-Arab megalopolis. What remains are micronarratives and excerpts: Floral patterns on women’s dresses, sheet metal from cars, and concrete.