The public vote of the Kassel Fotobookfestival 2015 visitors goes to Laura El-Tantawys »In the Shadow of the Pyramids«
Gerry Badger: I first saw this as a dummy at Unseen in 2014, where I felt it should have won the dummy prize. Laura El Tantawy’s book is a fascinating blend of the personal with the political. Going back to Egypt to discover her roots, she became caught up in the momentous events in Tahir Square during 2011, and stayed to photograph the whole event. Her highly impressionistic style is in the best tradition of Japanese protest books, and captures he confusion of the event extremely well – where people where having picnics in the middle of the square while others were dying in the surrounding streets. At first glance, her brightly coloured, semi abstract images seem too ‘aesthetic’, but when you really get into and study the sequence, journeying from hope and exultation to near despair, the toughness of her vision becomes apparent, and the whole is brought together with excellent production values and a beautiful, yet not overinsistent design.