Essa Grayeb, born in 1984, works and lives in Jerusalem as a visual artist working primarily with photography, video and installation. Some of Essa’s works are made from objects, footage and sounds that already exist, which he appropriates and manipulates. In his works, he touches upon notions of representation, absence and loss. His work often originates from an examination of his personal narratives within the collective history and memory, while often weaving in and out of reality and fiction. He earned a bachelor of fine arts degree (BFA) in photography in 2019 and is currently studying for a master of fine arts degree (MFA) at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design.
The Return of Osiris
On 09 June 1967, the Egyptian president at the time, Gamal Abdel Nasser appeared on television and the radio to inform Egyptian citizens of their country’s defeat in the war. During this unusual speech, he also announced his resignation. For many, Nasser’s speech marked the doom of the Arab nationalist movements that he had led and inspired; this moment encapsulates the loss and disillusionment of his pan-Arab vision.
The Return of Osiris weaves together footage extracted from numerous stylistically divergent Egyptian films and television series produced between 1976 and 2016. The found footage was edited to reconstruct Nasser’s resignation speech according to the original text.
By collecting, cataloging, and rearranging visual materials from popular culture, Palestinian artist Essa Grayeb’s film sheds new light on the challenge of conveying historical and political events in art along with the power that cinema has in building a collective memory, especially among post-traumatized nations.
Gamal Abdel Nasser is my Uncle
Gamel Abdel Nasser is always there, in a space on the wall reserved for him in the living room of every house, in my childhood memories. A memory of a far unknown uncle whom his portrait is hanged on the wall at my grandmother’s house. The disappearances of these portraits from the walls today made me look for them in other spaces, in houses and walls which exist in movies.
While reviewing Egyptian films, I started collecting screeenshots of Abdel Nasser’s portraits on walls in scenes of those films. Gamal Abdel Nasser is my Uncle is a series of reproduced portraits of the Egyptian president which has been excerpted from popular Egyptian films, printed and framed according to the original frame and composition on the wall, to display a series of immortal portraits of the iconic figure.