Artist eL Seed is both humble and proud to unveil his latest project ‘Perception’ at Art Dubai 2016 at the Global Art Forum during an exclusive talk with Glenn D. Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Society has a tendency to judge upon their own paradigm, creating misconceptions that divide communities, which escalate and lead to social segregation and ultimately conflict.
In a new scope of work, eL Seed explores the topic of ‘perception’ by questioning the level of judgment and misconception society can unconsciously have upon a community based on their differences.
The project revolves around the Coptic community of Zaraeeb, in the neighborhood of Mokkatam Mountain in Cairo, who collect and sort by hand the daily garbage of Cairo in a highly profitable recycling system. Still the community is perceived as dirty, marginalized and segregated.
“The Zaraeeb community welcomed my team and I as if we were family. 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 perceive themselves. The Zaraeeb community is not poor but isolated, not marginalized but pushed away. They are just a reflection of our society. They don’t live in the garbage but from the garbage, and not their garbage but the garbage of the whole city,” says eL Seed.
To shed light on this incredibly close-knit community, eL Seed flew in a team of 21 people from all over the world and over the course of three weeks, created an anamorphic artwork that covers more than 50 buildings, visible from only one point on top of the Mokkatam Mountain, looking down on the city, making one complete circular art piece. The image was created using the addition of fluorescent white paint that was illuminated for one night only on the culmination of the project, for the people of the community.
The unique and breathtaking feat of art uses the words of Athanasius that say in Arabic: ‘anyone who wants to see the light clearly needs to wipe his eyes first.’
eL Seed uses the context of Zaraeeb to question our perception of people who were once part of the general community, but are now thriving beyond comprehension, and are yet still unfairly and judgmentally looked down upon by society, however conscious or unconscious of their actions.
The entire project was self funded by eL Seed and the organization and the planning took 1 year in total to realize. The project will be showcased in a documentary at a later stage and published in a book and comic for children.
About eL Seed
eL Seed is an artist well known for blending the historic art of Arabic calligraphy and the modern art of graffiti, to poetic effect.
Born to Tunisian parents in the suburbs of Paris, eL Seed spent his formative years juggling different cultures, languages, and identities. Today eL Seed’s pieces have developed out of two worlds colliding, with these two cultures clashing and blending into one another, to form a new identity, a unique mark and a distinctive style. eL Seed uses intricate composition in his work to call not only on the words and their meaning, but also on their movement, which ultimately lures the viewer into a different state of mind.
Working primarily with subjects that seem contradictory, eL Seed’s art reflects the reality of mankind and the world we live in today.
eL Seed’s art has been shown on the walls of many cities around the world including Paris, New York, Jeddah and Melbourne. In 2013, Condé Nast Traveler recognized him as one of the years ‘visionaries’ for advocating peaceful expression and social progress through his work. And in 2013 eL Seed collaborated with the international luxury maison of Louis Vuitton, where he created a unique calligraffiti design for the classic monogram scarf, as part of the Foulards d’Artiste project. He is the first and only Arab artist to have designed a collaborative product for the famous French maison.
In March 2015, eL Seed was chosen as one of the 21 ‘Ted Fellows 2015’.