My summer in Montana is wrapping up. It has been beautiful. A summer punctuated by hot, pine-scented mornings hiking the loop behind my parent’s house, and big-sky nights that occasionally wink with the streak of a meteor or erupt into thunder, hail and lightning.
Heat and thunder also emanate from the stream of news from around the world: sexual/political scandals, secret government spying programs and summertime violence across the globe. I’ve been trying to keep up with news of the protests in Brazil and Egypt. These protests show the fragility of the veil that separates the acceptable play of order and chaos in human society from the unbearably cruel and destructive influence of the same forces. Look how quickly the intention to show up and speak your piece can turn to deadly and brutal conflict.
Yesterday, an American photographer in Cairo posted a gallery of his very recent photos to Reddit.
I started taking pictures as soon as I arrived, being the only white guy I got a few strange looks, and some pretty angry faces. A few threatening protestors told me I couldn’t take pictures and to leave immediately. A group of 15 or so protestors started to gather around me and a bunch of angry Arabic flew back and forth. So ya… maybe not the best idea?
Finally someone started speaking English to me! After explaining to the crowd I was there to record and tell they’re story, they welcomed me into their family. They brought me a translator, water, anything I needed.
The photos in the gallery he posted are raw and unnerving, so watch out. They show a much more vivid side of the conflict than I’ve seen elsewhere on the news. The expression of anguish in this particular photograph stood out to me immediately. I recognized his twisted, pained expression from two Rodin sculptures on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. (Here’s a post about my visit there in 2011.)
He was asked a question about the smells he encountered while taking these photographs by Reddit user mineown2020:
Absolutely serious question: What does it smell like in these photos?
Burning. Tear gas and burning rubber. The hospital didn’t smell to bad, they brought a guy in with a headshot wound, and after a few hours I would get a really eery terrible whiff of decay whenever I went by him. I don’t know if it was in my mind or real.
Worst than the smell was walking around in the mosque (have to take shoes off) with blood sticking to your feet. After a few hours when the floor got bad, everyone was like fuck it we puttin dem shoes on!