Sidewalk Salon: 1001 Street Chairs of Cairo is an intimate portrait of Cairo seen from its sidewalks and its thousands of street chairs. The images included in this book are a selection from our archive of Polaroid photos of street chairs, gathered over three years in many neighborhoods of Cairo.
Organized in two sections – walks and series–, the book gives the reader a glimpse into our method of urban empiricism and our journeys on foot through the city, in which we documented street chairs by indexing on maps the locations of the seats photographed. The series sections reveal common formal characteristics of street chairs, while shedding a light on multiple techniques of recycling and redesign that people use to repair and improve their seats. Some of those series group together particular types of seats widespread on the streets of Cairo, like armchairs and sofas, or curious pairs of twin chairs also found regularly on the pavement. Other sequences focus on the life cycle of chairs, showing different phases of their decay—from their amputations to their final collapse—or the miracle of their recovery with the help of various prostheses.
Though the bulk of the material collected in Sidewalk Salon: 1001 Street Chairs of Cairo is visual, we also conducted several interviews with the street chair users. From fruit sellers to poets sitting in Tahrir Square, each revealed their own perspective of the city in flux. Short pieces of fiction and poems inspired by street chairs, commissioned for this project, also seek to bring us closer to the occupants and owners of street chairs. Our roster of writers included the talented voices of Yasser Abd al-Latif, Al-Taher Sharkawy, Maged Zaher, Mohamed al-Fakharany, Amira Hanafi and Malaka Badr.
Translations from Arabic to English by Adam Talib, Robin Moger and Elisabeth Jaquette. Translations from English to Arabic by Ehab Abdel-Hamid.
The visual identity and the design of Sidewalk Salon: 1001 Street Chairs of Cairo was developed by the Dutch designer Sandra Kassenaar.
Co-published by Onomatopee (Eindhoven) and Kotob Khan (Cairo)
Softcover with 3 posters inserts
7 3/4 x 10 inches