Words and Images: Eslam Abd El Salam

Photographer Eslam Abd El Salam

My name is Eslam Abd El Salam. I have been living and working in Cairo, Egypt for over 7 years now. 

Little did I know that my passion lies in archiving and I have been a natural archivist since I was a little kid. Archiving all of my encounters and experiences and forming an enormous net and library of memories that have always stayed with me, not knowing that one day those visual lines of thoughts would have the capacity and urgency to be born out of and reflected from my mind’s eye. 

My creative practice is concerned with all that is intuitive and serendipitous to the present moment and the unaccounted for elements that arise while working on a project. I tend to question matters of memory and time, identity and self-exploration, and synchronicities and spirituality. 

Recently, I have been welcoming various mediums to my photographic practice and the joy of seeing them work together in total harmony is like no other. Text with still images has been both crucial and inevitable to my practice — as well as drawings, moving images, and sound when there is room for them to sneak in. 

Recently, I have been working on a project about the physical intimacy of our rooms and our ever evolving journey with our intimate spaces — with each emotional experience we bring to this space everyday, how they watch us grow, and how they grow in us. I started the early stages of this project even without any clear text. The title came to me very quickly the minute I started having any imaginative and visual idea of how this project is going to be like. “Until Further Notice,” as a phrase, always meant growth and movement — mystery and faith — that God always shapes the best of scenarios for us even if, at times, it doesn’t look like it. It also means that our relationship to our surroundings and to each other never stays the same. We can only speak about the past and present moment of how we feel and how it has been with us but tomorrow is always another story that we don’t know of, yet. 

"Until Further Notice" is a visual research project about the varying synonyms and journeys of our personal experiences with domestic spaces. 

This project was my channel to step out of my own heavy feelings, and to immerse myself with those photographed and familiar to me while creating this project. I always felt it was my small gesture of love to them. Knowing them and being close to them in many different ways, in many different contexts, knowing how deeply they care about domesticities and how they all have their respected restless journeys of searching for a space that can sum their parts and shelter them in a gentle capacity. 

I find myself and those close to me always talking about our memories with domestic spaces and how they are always evolving and echoing with time and experience. What is “home” to each and every one of us? Where do the affinity and familiarity that we always look for lie? 

“Until Further Notice” is a series of portraits about people and their relationship with their rooms and vice versa. It is about the many layers and densities of being inside a domestic space — what they give us, and what we give back. 

It is a visual memo that tries to shed some light on these human experiences by documenting a simple day in the lives of each person in the photographs. 

It is also about the discomfort that last year [COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing quarantine and lockdown regulations] brought to all of us — from news of the invisible, and of the uncertain. We were given time — an unidentified amount of time. It meant that we were more than ever staying home, indoors. 

That discomfort can come in different forms — whether it's from family dynamics we tend to avoid and opt to spend time with the company of our own self, or the constant fear of not seeing what the foreseeable future holds, or even how we don’t feel connected to our own interiors and belongings. 

That confinement, however, didn’t flush its full meaning to some at first, but it changed along the way. 

The common thread here is that, despite how different our experiences are with our rooms and beds, they are and will always be changing and restless. All of those participated in the project share the same belief: they live with it. 

All photographs were part of Eslam Abd El Salam’s "Until Further Notice" project, which was recently exhibited as part of Roznama 8 at CiC (Contemporary Image Collective). The project began in late December 2020, and is an on-going project. Roznama's opening took place on 11 March 2021.


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