If I ask you to describe someone in his 50s, would you start telling: he was beautiful when he was 10 years old, very smart and intellectual according to his age? Or you would describe what he looks like know. What could be the reasons for anyone to describe someone only by his childhood or past features? It could be that he never grew up, he remained 10 years old. It can happen but maybe not in our universe. Or perhaps no one has seen him since he was ten, and this is the only image that remains of him. Or maybe he grew up, and we still see him, but he changed to a version that we don’t like. So I chose to mention only the image I like about him. This is your freedom. The only issue is that when I will meet that person in reality, I would never be able to recognize him. No wonder, you have given me irrelevant information.
The same applies to Alexandria, except she is not someone… She is 50 million ones. In other words. Alexandria is not the most beautiful city in the Mediterranean. The city’s present is hard. So what do we do? One solution is to escape outwards to a better place, another one would be accepting reality with all its good and bad, and, thirdly is also to escape but inwards or to the past. For a better image, we have kept in mind. This last solution is threatening and alarming. Those who adopt it are both consumers and producers. They are not only consuming the idea of the past, but they also reproduce unreal versions of it and impose them on the present. That could lead to dangerous results. It kills creativity and marginalizes the voices of those who live in present and they in return, would lose the sense of belonging and ownership to their own city. Then at the end of the journey, the city becomes invisible. Yes, indeed, Alexandria is an invisible city.
In this research, I choose to work on giving meaningful and relevant narratives from the city’s present. Trying to read the current social history, how it was impacted by the past, and how it works now. Always through the architecture and urbanism prism, I analyze how people adjust their physical surroundings to make the city works for them. This is what leads to a real understanding of the change that is hitting Alexandria. To understand and accept each other. This work is part of my next book. A study of what is called Third Places. It is simply everything that is neither home nor work. It is where society with all levels meets and interacts. It is the street level where we build our social experience with the city and with each other.
In order to understand modern Alexandria’s socio-cultural life, we need to understand who lived and still lives in the city. We need to study the general traits of each group of people in relation to where they came from and what has shaped them. Therefore I am trying to offer an alternative viewpoint to reread the city’s built heritage, reconstruct Alexandria’s modern social history and understand how the different groups of people are sharing the same places and interact with each other. In my artistic research approach, I study spaces of social gathering and interaction between the community and how they impact back the city of today. Through on-site hand drawings and descriptive observations, the research is be presented in the form of stories and illustrations.