The first seeds of my identity were planted in El Mehalla Al Kobra, my home and where I was born. El Mehalla is known as the home of Egyptian cotton, and is an important center for harvesting and spinning white cotton. Through my young eyes, my grandfather’s house beamed with light and memories. My cotton threads extend back three generations: my great grandfather was a merchant of silk and wool––one of the first in El Mehalla to lead the initial stage of the popular manufacturing textile trade at the time. In the late 1960’s my grandfather established his textile factory, where he was joined by my father in the ‘80s and they continued to weave our family threads and plant the cotton seed.
“White gold” is an ongoing search for my personal and national identity. A cycle of loss and possibilities.
Triggered by an unfinished moment in my memories. Drifting between the currents…the weight of my history does not seem in balance with my present reality. I try to collect what would be the last traces of my childhood in a place that may disappear: my home. Uprooted and extracted from its grounds, I see myself reflected in the cotton’s journey. An embodiment as I continuously try to become. The white cotton flower endures change internally and externally until it is loomed into woven and drawn fabrics. Likewise, I am trying to adapt to the outside world; caught between hands and air, I’m trying to weave my existence in today’s current.
Drawing on the legacies of my grandparents, their archives, and my own country’s eroding history, I try, through this work, to reconnect and recollect what is left of our own withering seeds of cotton. What once was a major symbol for our Egyptian identity and our cultural wealth and that ties us all to our historical past…I explore the origin, evolution, erosion, and revival plans. Beneath the layers, unfolds the lineage of Egypt, from the past to its present we witness today. What could have been, what could still be, and what have we lost?