The photos are confused: are these good guys or bad guys? The guy slumped in the car, is he sleeping or dead? Is the guy talking on the phone scared or defiant? And, one year on, who actually won and has anything changed? The Last Days of Mubarak at foto8 is unsettling in many ways.
There were so many photojournalists covering the Tahrir Square occupation and attendant pro and anti Mubarak protests that to draw out the work of just two could feel somewhat restricting. But, instead, what comes across is how even in the heart of the action there are long lulls and almost total uncertainty. It’s also somewhat bizarre to go to the foto8 gallery on Honduras Street and have almost total silence whilst calmly considering photos of insanity.
The work is obviously of a very high standard and there are a few very effective recurring ‘looks’ principally catching a lone young man away from the crowd who is either tired or wounded, or both. For example, a man propped against a graffiti strewn wall, his hand glasping a rolled up Egyptian flag but his body lacking the energy to go on, the head shot of a man who has taken a beating but who looks to have achieved some form of serenity as a result. There are also strong shots from within the mass – picking out the contrasts here too as Christians march with Muslims, or women stand defiant in a crowd separate from their men.
So a compelling and intriguing exhibition – as difficult to draw conclusions from as the country from which the photos come. One year on and nobody still really knows who won or what happens next.