Nermine Hammam is a Cairo-based visual artist who makes figurative prints existing between painting and photography.
During the 2011 Arab Spring she walked around Tahrir Square, taking photos of the soldiers there. It was a few months after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak and prior to the eruption of violence between protesters and the military, a time when soldiers were looked at as heroes presiding over a glorious revolution:
“To fresh eyes who are not familiar with Cairo, it would appear as . . . war zone. But to the ones who are from here . . . it became an illusion of utopia . Little children would run up to the tanks so that their families would take pictures of them with the soldiers . . . [who] seemed like kids . . . holding their guns like a toy, posing in a very romanticized and indolent manner . . . it was in those snapshots that I found the unreal landscapes of an unreal paradise . . .” 1
This “illusion of utopia” formed the foundation of Hammam’s series Upekkha, in which the soldiers she photographed are placed against dreamy, tranquil backdrops invoking the fleeting idealism of the time:
Hammam’s skillful juxtaposition of armed soldiers with lush, idyllic scenery is colorful and pleasing to the eye, even as it triggers a certain dissonance in the mind of the viewer.
View more of this Upekkha at Nermine Hammam’s website.
Kudos to GUP Magazine for turning us on to Hammam’s work.