“For much of my life home has been an abstract place far away from my reach” Laura El-Tantawy
Laura El-Tantawy has chosen photography as an artistic medium through which she can explore and question personal experience. Born to Egyptian parents in England, she has lived different periods of her life in the West and the Middle East. These fusions of place, culture and identity are a source of inspiration and enlightenment for the artist, but equally they are a source of unsettling anxiety and feelings of homelessness. In 2005 El-Tantawy set out to explore Egypt, searching for familiarity through happy childhood memories of growing up in Cairo. But as an eyewitness to the events of the Egyptian Revolution in 2011-2013, the plot of her project dramatically changed - “This is not the story I set out to tell”, she said in 2013. Her personal insight into these historical events is now immortalised in the book, In The Shadow of the Pyramids, which was short-listed for the prestigious Deutsche Borse Photography Foundation Prize in 2016.
With Beyond Here is Nothing, El-Tantawy returns to her original subject matter to contemplate the feelings of rootlessness, identity and cultural clashes that underpin her search for where to call home. Shot exclusively on her iPhone she captures abstract glimpses of life on different continents - which she refers to as a “photographic meditation”. Her style is poetic and impressionistic, reminiscent through the use of blur and colour of Saul Leiter’s atmospheric photographs of 1950s New York. Her tools are light, shadow and the natural elements - which she uses to pull the viewer from the West to the East, and back again. Grey puddles, reflected clouds and fallen cherry-blossom flowers signify a moment in El-Tantawy’s London. Orange haze, palm trees and elegant colonial architecture signify a different moment in Cairo. A series of cloudscapes metaphorically hint at broader existential questions about what lies beyond any individual’s notion of home.
Works will be presented as prints and projections in a multi-media installation. The exhibition is also part of Peckham 24 - a 24 hour festival of contemporary photography during Photo London 2017.
ABOUT LAURA-EL TANTAWY
Laura El-Tantawy is an Egyptian photographer who currently lives in London. She was born in England to Egyptian parents. She attended high school in Saudi Arabia, started university in Cairo and finished her first degree in the United States. She holds an MA in Art and Media Practice from the University of Westminster in London (2011). The experience of living between East and West for much of her life informs her work. She is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including FOAM Talent in 2012 and winner of the Best Photo Book Public Vote 2015 at Fotobookfestival Kassel, Germany. In 2016 Laura El-Tantawy was short-listed for the prestigious Deutsche Borse Photography Foundation Prize for her self-published book, In The Shadow of the Pyramids. Selected recent exhibitions include: - Deutsche Borse Photography Prize exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery London (2016), and at The Cube, Deutsche Borse Foundation, Frankfurt, Germany (2016), Art Now Festival of Art and Journalism, LCC, London (2016) and a solo show for In The Shadow of the Pyramids at Gulf Photo Plus, Dubai UAE (2015).