Anyone who has ever walked the streets in Cairo has noticed the littering of street chairs, both abandoned and those that garner their spots on the sidewalk either for neighborhood watchers to lounge outdoors or for the bawwab. Inspired by the sense of character found in these chairs, architect and artist Manar Moursi and diplomat and publisher David Puig took 1,000 Polaroids all throughout Cairo’s various areas, ranging from Shubra, Zamalek, New Cairo and Khalifa, and combined them into one poignant book.
Along with interviews with some of the street chair owners and snippets of poetry and literature from contributing authors like Taher el Sharqawy, Maged Zaher, Mohamed Al Fakhrani, Amira Hanafy and Yasser Abd El Latif, the images manage to capture the distinctive feel of Cairo’s sensory-rich streets — the ceaseless reverberation of frustrated honks and traffic jams, the raucous voices peddling goods, the meowing cats. The book manages to use a tangible item without a voice to tell the vivid story of one of the Middle East’s most historically and culturally rich cities.
“Other sequences focus on the life cycle of chairs, showing different phases of their decay—from their amputations to their final collapse—or the miracle of their recovery with the help of various prostheses.”
After a successful crowdfunding campaign that ran throughout April, Sidewalk Salon is in creation and will be available for purchase through the Sidewalk Salon’s Etsy page this summer.