Perception and the Garbage People 1 Favorite 

Practitioner: 

Date: 

Mar 30 2016

Location: 

Cairo, Egypt

The streets of the Cairo suburb Manshiyat Naser, nicknamed "Garbage City," are lined with trash, and the people who live there — Coptic Christians who make their living sorting through it and recycling anything they can — are called zabaleen, or "garbage people."

But the sides of more than 40 buildings in Manshiyat Naser are now covered in something else: a gorgeous mural of Arabic calligraphy by the French-Tunisian street artist eL Seed, a jumble of bright colors that becomes a coherent whole only when seen from a distance.

The words in the calligraphy are a quote from a Coptic Christian bishop: "Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eye first." The purpose of the project, according to the artist, was to get people to see the neighborhood in a different light:

"in my new project ‘Perception’ I am questioning the level of judgment and misconception society can unconsciously have upon a community based on their differences. In the neighborhood of Manshiyat Nasr in Cairo, the Coptic community of Zaraeeb collects the trash of the city for decades and developed the most efficient and highly profitable recycling system on a global level. Still, the place is perceived as dirty, marginalized and segregated. To bring light on this community, with my team and the help of the local community, I created an anamorphic piece that covers almost 50 buildings only visible from a certain point of the Moqattam Mountain. The piece of art uses the words of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, a Coptic Bishop from the 3rd century, that said: ‘Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eye first.' 'إن أراد أحد أن يبصر نور الشمس، فإن عليه أن يمسح عينيه' The Zaraeeb community welcomed my team and I as we were family. It was one of the most amazing human experience I have ever had. They are generous, honest and strong people. They have been given the name of Zabaleen (the garbage people), but this is not how they call themselves. They don’t live in the garbage but from the garbage; and not their garbage, but the garbage of the whole city. They are the one who clean the city of Cairo."

-from Vox online

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