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This mural spanning 50 buildings in Cairo contains a hidden message

2 min read

Better Society
This mural spanning 50 buildings in Cairo contains a hidden message
Source: Weburbanist.com

Fusing Arabic calligraphy with graffiti, ‘Calligraffiti’ artist paints colourful, swirling messages of hope and peace across 50 buildings in a district of Cairo that can only be fully seen from a nearby mountain.

Colourful Cairo ‘Calligraffiti’ contains cryptic clue

French-Tunisian artist eL Seed blends the historic art of Arabic calligraphy with graffti to portray messages of beauty, poetry and peace across all continents. This is the story of the artist and TED Fellow’s most ambitious project to date: a mural painted across 50 buildings in Manshiyat Naser, a district of Cairo, Egypt, that can only be fully appreciated in all its glory from a point on nearby mountainside.

When seen as a whole, the piece spells out the words of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, a Coptic bishop from the 3rd Century, who said: “Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eyes first.” Source: Facebook/TED

The entire work is only visible from a point on the nearby Mokattam Mountain

On the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, nestles the community of Manshiyat Naser, famous locally for providing informal garbage and recycling services for rest of the city, but equally as infamous for the mess and smell that come with that role.

‘Calligraffiti’ artist eL Seed worked with locals to develop an incredible mural spanning 50 buildings, aiming to change perceptions and raise awareness about the community.

Accustomed to being marginalised and belittled, the residents are incredibly industrious, sorting out garbage from recyclables by district within the community, literally turning Cairo’s trash into lucrative treasure.

The mural blends aspects of Arabic calligraphy with contemporary graffiti, all while highlighting the architecture of the area. The entire work is only visible from a point on the nearby Mokattam Mountain.

When viewed as a whole, the piece spells out the words of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, a Coptic bishop from the 3rd Century, who said: “Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eye first.”

“The Zaraeeb community welcomed my team and I as if we were family,” the artist told Kurt, for Weburbanist“It was one of the most amazing human experiences 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 ones who clean the city of Cairo.”

Source: Weburbanist

The mural is a seemingly disjointed hotch-potch of random colour and squiggles unless viewed  from one specific point on the mountain opposite.
eL Seed’s most ambitious project to date can only been seen in its entirety from a spot on the mountain The mural is a seemingly disjointed hotch-potch of random colour and squiggles unless viewed from one specific point on the mountain opposite. Source: Facebook/eLSeed
The artist’s aim is to change perceptions and raise awareness about the community. Below: eL Seed’s full TED Talk.
‘Calligraffiti’ artist eL Seed worked with locals to develop an incredible mural spanning 50 buildings The artist’s aim is to change perceptions and raise awareness about the community. Below: eL Seed’s full TED Talk. Source: Weburbanist

A project of peace, painted across 50 buildings eL Seed fuses Arabic calligraphy with graffiti to paint colorful, swirling messages of hope and peace on buildings from Tunisia to Paris. The artist and TED Fellow shares the story of his most ambitious project yet: a mural painted across 50 buildings in Manshiyat Naser, a district of Cairo, Egypt, that can only be fully seen from a nearby mountain. Source: TED.com
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