Sara Sallam | The Fourth Pyramid Belongs to Her

fourth pyramid.jpeg

Country of origin: Egypt
Project location: Egypt
Program: Arab Documentary Photography Program
Year: 2016

For years we couldn’t talk about my grandmother. My parents didn’t want me to attend her funeral, and later I couldn’t get myself to visit her grave. Meanwhile, I waited impatiently to enter an ancient tomb and stare in fascination at a mummy.

The Fourth Pyramid Belongs To Her is an ongoing photographic body of work constructed on analogies between the experience of losing my grandmother and the many conflicting yet coexisting perceptions of death that surrounded me as I grew up in Egypt – a country shaped by its history as the necropolis of an ancient civilization buried under years of sand. Mourners, undertakers, tourists, archaeologists, smugglers, and sometimes boys playing hide and seek all intersect in this nationwide cemetery, yet each relates to it in their unique ways. Through juxtapositions, the project acts as a visual commentary on contemporary ways of seeing the dead in Egypt. It particularly addresses the apathy towards ancient remains by portraying my grandmother as a pharaoh and thereby instilling my ancestors’ humanity.