congress / people


Start Place: Cairo, Egipt

Place: Cairo, Egipt

Theme: art, design

ECC Participation: panel member

photo: private archive

Multidisciplinary artist. Mohamed Fahmy, a.k.a. Ganzeer, uses in his works lots of various tools, and thus disagrees about limiting him to any single field of art. As he says “I'm not exactly a graphic designer, nor am I a product designer. I am not particularly a street-artist or comic book artist, nor am I an installation artist, writer, speaker, or video-maker. But I've had the chance to assume one of those roles at different periods of time and in different locations around the world.” While working in Holland, Germany, Poland, Jordan, or Kuwait, Ganzeer remains strongly tight to his hometown, Cairo, Egypt.

“People forget that the streets belong to the people.”

He is considered one of the key figures on that part of the Egyptian art scene which is socially engaged and speaks up for the public space. He designs critical stickers, inscriptions on T-shirts, fonts as well as organises workshops and interactive games. In Shatana, a small town in Jordan, Ganzeer created a sign system which allowed him to pose the question whether design is just a luxury that only wealthy societies can afford (“Sign Language” at Shatana International Workshop 3, 2009). His individual exhibition “Everyday Heroes” (Townhouse Onsite, Cairo 2007) depicted ten professions that are essential for the correct functioning of Cairo, and at the same time turn out frequently underestimated by the general public; this way a refuse collector became a superhero. “City of Silent Noise” is, in turn, a video installation devoted to Cairo subcultures (Radius of Art, Kiel, 2008). Ganzeer has also redefined the notion of ‘the Islamic art’ (“Wikislamkitsch” – site-specific installation, co-created with Mahmoud Khaled, Tenerife, 2006) and explored cultural stereotypes (billboard “Stereotypical Graphics”, co-designed with the Berlin duet EPS51 and stressing popular conceptions of the cultures of Egypt and Germany, Cairoscape / Uqbar, Berlin, Germany, 2008). Since 2005 he has been running the Cairo-based design studio Ganzeer: Experimental Design Unit. He is also an active blogger.

In the spring of 2011, at the time of the Cairo revolution, Ganzeer started to create a series of murals – “Martyr Murals” – portraying Egyptians who had been killed in skirmishes on the streets of the city. He was also one of the leading artists who participated in the so-called Mad Graffiti Weekend (May 20-22, 2011), a street action by street artists, volunteers, documentarians and bloggers that was organised in response to the authorities’ action to wipe the Martyr Murals off the Cairo buildings. Among his latest works is a mural that depicts a tank with its barrel aimed at a cyclist, by which the artists expresses his opposition to the Egypt’s military council that governs the state. His artistic activity on the streets of Cairo in the past few months led him to arrest.

As a participant of the European Culture Congress, Ganzeer will take part in the discussion “Culture in action”.