The City of the Dead - Part one
By: Virginie Nguyen
The City of the Dead, situated at Cairo’s Arafa necropolis, is a necropolis and cemetery below the Mokattam Hills. Stretching out for 6.4 km, the streets in the City of the Dead are quiet, narrow and often unpaved. There, one can find a dense grid of tomb and mausoleum structures, where some people live and work among the dead. Some reside here to be near ancestors, but most of them live there after being forced to move from central Cairo due to urban renewal demolitions and urbanization pressures. Other residents emigrated in from the agricultural countryside, looking for work.
The necropolis has been around for more than 700 years, but no one is sure of the exact number of people living among the million or so tombs.
In the past, the Arab conquerors chose the area as a burial ground in order to be far away from the city but a deserted location. In the Egyptian society, the cemeteries are not considered as a place for the dead but rather a place where life begins..
Among the cemeteries of the City of the Dead lives a community of Egypt’s urban and poor residents. There are five major cemeteries: the Northern Cemetery, Bab el Nasr Cemetery, the Southern Cemetery, the Cemetery of the Great, and Bab al-Wazir Cemetery.
Egyptians don’t really see cemeteries as a place of the dead, but rather a place where life begins.
Although they are tolerated, the residents living in the City of the Dead are insecure about their status, as they are living there illegally.
A young boy walks around the tomb of an important business man. His parents are the undertakers of the family of the business man. They are living in a small house just next to it.
A young woman praying at Sayeda Nafisa Mosque on Prophet Mohamed’s birthday.
Nowadays, the population of the City of the Dead is growing quickly due to rural migration and a housing crisis that has grown worse since the revolution.
In the past, Cairo rulers chose this area for their tombs in order to be outside the crowded city in a deserted location. This area was used as a burial ground for different dynasties, including the Fatimids, Abbasids, Ayyubids, Mamlukes, and the Ottomans, among others.
To be continued..
PULSE INDEX by RAFAEL LOZANO-HEMMER ll Art Installation in Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia
“Pulse Index” is an interactive installation that records participants’ fingerprints at the same time as it detects their heart rates. The piece displays data for the last 765 and over participants in a stepped display that creates a horizon line of skin. To participate, people introduce their finger into a custom-made sensor equipped with a 220x digital microscope and a heart rate sensor; their fingerprint immediately appears on the largest cell of the display, pulsating to their heart beat. As more people try the piece one’s own recording travels upwards until it disappears altogether —a kind of memento mori using fingerprints, the most commonly used biometric image for identification.
Photographer’s girlfriend leads him around the world
This is a good idea for so many reasons
Ah get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don’t steal, don’t lift
Twenty years of schoolin’
And they put you on the day shift
Look out kid
They keep it all hid
Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle
Don’t wear sandals
Try to avoid the scandals
Don’t wanna be a bum
You better chew gum
The pump don’t work
‘Cause the vandals took the handles.