Girl in Office | 2015 - The Cairo Project

I work on the ninth floor of a cramped office tower in downtown Cairo, one of three structures belonging to the same Kafkaesque government organisation. Many offices are windowless, but on the landings the windows look out to Press Street in Boulak, revealing the tops of the central air-conditioning units directly below and two of Cairo’s iconic buildings, the cake-like Al-Akhbar Press headquarters and the rectangular, tower-topped Radio and Television Union, in the distance. At times the view can take on an unlikely lyricism which, when combined with reflections of what is going on inside the building, yields a strange sense of dynamism. Two of the buildings are connected by footbridges on two floors, and the tinted glass sealing them off can complicate the view in interesting ways. Suddenly the most mundane of workplaces is transformed not only into a kind of airport but perhaps also a heavenly harbour: a port of call where people pass between planes of existence. Emphasising this sense of transcendence through juxtaposition is the face and figure of my coworker Soha Hesham. Soha is an uplifting presence in the office and her energy belies the deathly bureaucratic stasis all around. Over the weeks, months, years – at different times of day – she has often accompanied me on walks through the building/s, and in the course of it she has graciously become my model.

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