00 Where can I possibly begin telling the story of a past that is not yet passed? Of a history suffused with remembered futures? I’ll begin in the only place I’m able to: in the milieus, in the turbulent and vociferous middle of things, in the noisy conjunctures, emergent constellations, and cascading temporalities of a city.
01 I arrived in Cairo for the first time in the summer of 2013 to an empty airport terminal. Downtown was filled with assembling bodies calling for the downfall of Mohamed Morsi’s regime, a discordant echo of the 2011 revolution. The military had occupied the streets of the city, and multitudinous voices from Midan Tahrir jubilantly chanted for army intervention. American-made apache helicopters coarsely floated above the crowds, dropping miniature Egyptian flags into outstretched hands.
02 After a brief back and forth with a driver who was hesitant to take me to my destination because of its proximity to the occupied square, we nervously sped along raised freeways above Cairo’s proliferous makeshift neighborhoods and eventually stopped at a wall of large concrete blocks stacked three meters high: the graffitied barrier that marked the entrance to my flat. After stepping out of the car into an atmosphere thickly saturated with chants from the square, I climbed several flights of stairs and found my partner waiting. Soon, we decided to go to Tahrir to witness the swells of congregating bodies tightly assembled within the midan, and then spent the rest of the evening back in our flat drinking cold Egyptian beer, following Twitter, making calls to friends and family, listening to the booms of fireworks going off in the streets below, and staring up at the military's helicopters that repetitively circled just above our balcony.
03 We had traveled to Egypt to be part of an ongoing revolution and arrived on the eve of a coup, intimately detoured, adrift and lost in tectonic shifts cacophonously grinding forward and in reverse.
04 Over the two years that followed that night, I undertook the practice of clandestinely recording photographs, videos, and conversations in the hopes of making contact with a revolution that persisted under the coup in the forms of indeterminacies that it had set into motion years prior. Taking part in transversal movements across and between different obscure milieus, I hoped to encounter the city as well as its varied and shared possibility.
05 The possibilities of a city are unknowable in advance, in perpetuity. My life in Cairo was a possible life, a fragile wave of gestures, relations, and activities. My images of Cairo were possible images, an assembly of potential perspectives precariously accumulated. Somewhere between infinity and contingency, my body and camera circulated within plural conditions where lives and images differentially emerged from diverse constellations of encounters taking place in the currents of incongruent temporalities. This encounter between myself and you that is taking place now, mediated through an assemblage of images and text, is a continuation of this process.
06 In Cairo, I spent my time talking, meeting, inhabiting, traversing, eating, sleeping, dreaming, all inseparably with other things, bodies, atmospheres, milieus, and architectures. My own thinking was not "on" the city, a removed contemplation from afar, as much as it was "of" the city, intimately tied to, emergent from, and indebted to repeated encounters, affinities, and intimacies with others.
07 Because living a political life has become significantly more precarious and perilous in Cairo following the coup, I chose to produce and present this project in ways that evade the oversight and attention of the military regime. To these ends, all of the photographs and videos that you'll encounter were recorded imperceptibly and without the permission of the Ministry of Interior. I've also chosen to obfuscate and encrypt away all information that could in any way aid the regime’s security forces in their ongoing repressive campaigns against those that continue living and struggling in Cairo. As a result, the conversation materials that you'll find throughout the project have been anonymized and mixed together and have also had their details additively and subtractively altered, a cryptodocumentary practice that is multitudinous, abstracted, and encrypted in form. Throughout the drifts, I've drawn all of these materials together in the hopes of establishing milieus of thought concerning the forms of life and resistance and memory that endure under military rule.
08 This project is about the indeterminate duration of an uprising that refused and refuses to be extinguished. It’s about the conversations I had and the people I met and the spaces and times we shared during my time in Cairo following the coup. It’s about the images, sounds, affects, ideas, bodies, architectures, words, memories, and dreams that I assembled and assembled me. It's about the turbulent and rolling wakes of a revolution that persist within the swallowing swells of a coup that are presently sweeping over Egypt. It’s about the cultivated, contested, defended, obfuscated, hidden, threatened, preserved, undecided, and sometimes forgotten pasts and futures of the revolution that urgently struggle to persist. It’s about conditions of possibility that smolder.