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Biennale of Arab Photographers: Xenia Nikolskaya, Dust


The series Dust, by Xenia Nikolskaya, made between 2006 and 2011, explores the abandon of historical buildings in Egypt. These images represent a duality. Dust is a material that covers the city, literally marking the passing of time on urban objects, but it is also a temporal metaphor of the recording and progressive erasure of memories. Egypt’s architecture at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century–generally called “cosmopolitan architecture” is going to rapidly succumb to negligence, real-estate frenzy, and city overpopulation.

Since the start of the project in 2006, a certain number of places documented by the artist have been demolished, while others have gone through processes of renovation and modernization. Dust is not only an artistic piece; it is a precious source of information that gives testimony to a country’s economic and social evolutions. “When I undertook this project,” explains the photographer, “I was motivated by curiosity. But with Egypt going through a social and political upheaval, Dust came to illustrate the economic stagnation that had engulfed the country over the course of the last three decades. My project highlights the importance of documenting a country going through a transformation and the urgency of reflecting on its history, in order to prepare for its future.”


Xenia Nikolskaya, Dust
Biennale of Contemporary Arab World Photography
From September 13 through November 12, 2017
Maison Européenne de la Photographie
5/7 Rue de Fourcy
75004 Paris

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