The Revolution is Not Over, Yet I Yearn for the Days in Tahrir
I photograph to process. Experiencing one's first revolution is no small thing. Overwhelmed, overjoyed, scared, constantly negotiating "safety" as the very real threats bumped up against the strong desires to not miss out on any moment, this was extraordinary living. Looking through the camera lens allowed me to be there, and yet to step away. To experience the intensity from the borderlands, a familiar perspective for me, as I sought to explain the merits of solidarity to many of my fellow inhabitants of the Republic of Tahrir, when they questioned my presence. I told them that none of us would be free, until we were all free. That I would fight for their battles, on the side of what I believed to be right - and I would hope, that when I was fighting elsewhere, when I struggled to survive, to have a voice and to live freely, that I would find other allies around me, ready to fight with me.
Each day in Tahrir was different - each moment felt necessary to document, yet not quite ready to be defined. I know the revolution is not over. Every day battles are still being fought, whether on the streets, in the military tribunals, through press conferences, or in meetings as new civil society and political organizations are formed and reinvigorated. But those first three weeks were magic and Tahrir was at the heart of it. Each day in Tahrir was different. No one knew quite what to expect but everyone dreamt big, pushing their own boundaries of possibility. It was like a chorus, suddenly realizing the magnificent sound of their own voices in unison, looking at photographs of themselves with wonder.
It felt like everyone had been sleepwalking, and suddenly all were simultaneously awakened… looking at each other and themselves in new and exciting ways. People struggling with the opportunity to reimagine their country (and their place in it) and rebuild in that vision, while coming to terms with the fact that many powerful factions of the old regime are still in place, determined to hold on to their power at any cost. There were demands made, victories celebrated, harrowing setbacks, peaceful expression, violence between many different groups, generous acts of kindness from strangers, thoughtfulness and strategies, impulses of the mob, creative capitalism and rampant commercialization of the revolution.
It was a fluid, organic and very human experiment - one not bound by any particular principle or ideology and therefore unable to be led by any individual or organization - hard to contain or describe with accuracy, but bursting with fascinating contradiction and glorious originality. Tahrir was a temporal fully functioning community, built on self expression and self-reliance, functioning through active participation by all, creating a vision to carry back with you to inspire everyday life.
These images of those days are at once an homage and reminder of what was precious, undefined, yet so extraordinary - and at the same time, what we constantly seek, what we have to continue to aspire to as we do the very real work of revolution. There is infinite possibility and yet seemingly insurmountable obstacles at every turn. When we remember Tahrir, we are reminded of how dreams unfolded before our eyes, how we all worked together to better understand each other and find a common path forward. How important it was to be seen and be heard, but also to listen to each other and witness the beauty of your neighbor, your countryman, your new friend.