Exhibited in A View From The Cloud
Artisans in Cairo speak out on politics and cultural tradition in multi-media stories by Massimiliano Fusari
Massimiliano is a London-based consultant, analyst and multimedia producer with more than 20 years of experience in the Middle East. He is an academic and multimedia journalist who covered daily issues and long-term projects from Morocco to China. The photographs and videos below, from his extensive project The Tentmakers of Islamic Cairo, introduce us to his vision on the analysis and production of visual communication, with an emphasis on issues of citizen diplomacy and multiculturalism.
THE TENTMAKERS PROJECT
In the labyrinthine milieu of old Cairo, in the vicinity of Bab Zuwayla, the last remaining gate of the medieval city, craftsmen have been producing textiles of both utility and striking beauty for centuries. Intended originally for tents, these decorative pieces of stitched cotton, known as khayamiyya, have long attracted Cairenes as well as distant travellers.
Massimiliano’s Tentmakers of Cairo project is a complete multimedia archive of everyday life and sustainable development efforts of the ancient and beautiful handcraft of the khayamiyya.
Large pieces line pavilions set up to celebrate weddings or returning pilgrims; other pieces assume a decorative domestic function as wall hangings, bedspreads, or pillow cases.
Whether publicly or privately displayed, the floral, geometric, calligraphic, or Pharaonic patterns visually charm and, as both artisans and traders, the tentmakers of Cairo form part of an enduring, creative world which often recedes into a background that few see.
Things have been changing…
I love this job… I want my children to learn the skills.
If I were President of Egypt I would ….
Gamal: It’s my job. Who doesn’t like their job.
The country will improve, God willing.
THE LARGER PICTURE
“In these photos … we see the Other as sharing with us, while preserving his or her difference, a common and easily understandable humanity. Our eye is invited to linger on the beautiful banality of daily gestures, and even on the objects that accompany our everyday life. The end result, therefore, relates not only to aesthetics, but to ethics. Photographer, anthropologist and humanist, Massimiliano Fusari helps us being more aware, more open. In a few words, more human.” Ambassador Roberto Toscano, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs .
The complete interactive archive is available as a multimedia platform on massimedia.com/storytelling/tentmakers. There, you have the opportunity to engage with the materials according to your preferences, time, interests, and various interpretations of the same story.
The images featured represent a selection of the several stories Fusari edited from the Cairo materials he produced at the end of 2013. A dedicated photographic exhibition has been extensively traveling the UK and Europe since 2014, and recently anchored at the Oriental Museum of Durham (UK) as one of its permanent collections.
The Streaming Museum is pleased to present Massimiliano’s interactive and multimedia exhibition and along with this, his highly regarded seminars on Visual Storytelling and Digital Diplomacy.
Seminars incorporate hands-on sessions into theoretical lectures with particular attention to diplomatic, cultural, public and political topics. They are specifically geared for the general public as much as university students and international institutions’ personnel.
Massimiliano is a digital consultant, scholar, and results-driven visual storyteller with more than 20 years of education and experience on the Muslim World. As a multimedia journalist, he worked from Morocco to China, bridging academia with the creative industries to produce multicultural communication.
After a series of collaborations for private, public and third sector assets, including IOM and UNESCO, he was awarded his PhD at the University of Exeter (UK). By contextualizing his photojournalistic practice, Massimiliano has assessed the expanding possibilities of today’s digital media, to finalize the ‘Meta-Image’ and ‘Post-Produced Communication’ as formats to develop his rooted academic research and multimedia practice.
By producing interactive narratives, Massimiliano invites audiences not only to look at, but to fully participate and hence inform his stories through their interests and contributions. Overall, the focus is not on selling ideas, but on shaping communication together with clients and audiences.
Alongside his professional consulting, he is as a senior lecturer and trainer, currently working at the Emerging Media Labs at the University of Westminster in London (UK). Previously, he has been a visiting lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London (UK), and at the Diplomatic Institute of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome (Italy).