Amin El Dib : A Journey to Egypt

Amin El Dib, who spent his early childhood with his Egyptian father and German mother in Egypt and then moved with his family to Germany, visits the historic sites of ancient Egypt with his wife and daughter. He has literally forgotten how to speak the Arabic language and now he is visiting contemporary Egypt as a German tourist – bringing his previous knowledge from his youth with him. Looking back into the past accrues a specific signature through the aesthetic play of the photographer with the history of the given medium and his daughter as a guide through time.

„Everyone can testify to the fact that the length of time we are exposed to impressions has no impact on their fate within our memory. Nothing prevents us from retaining rooms where we spent twenty-four hours clearly in our memory and then completely forgetting others where we spent months. Not always is too short an exposure time at fault, when an image fails to appear on the plate of memory,“ writes Walter Benjamin on the peculiarities of memory in „A Berlin Chronicle,“ a preliminary work to his memoirs, Berlin Childhood around 1900. The vanished memory of spaces of the past can be manifested in the flash of an eye „within the image of a snapshot,“ if the plate is exposed „one day by an outside source, as if made of ignited magnesium powder.“ „We, however, are always at the center of these strange images.“ Benjamin’s image of the plate camera, through which he describes the strange latency and appearance of images in the process of memory (the photographic plate acting as a modern metaphor that replaces Plato’s comparison of memory to a board of wax) comes to the fore through the mechanisms of the medium itself in a volume of photographs by the German-Egyptian photographer Amin El Dib.