‘A Funny Thing About a Chair’: Support Art and Literature About Cairo’s Street Seats

Two days ago, Sidewalk Salon: 1001 Street Chairs of Cairo launched an ambitious $19,000 fundraising campaign to support a full-color art book that showcases photographs, interviews, poetry, and stories about Cairo’s many outdoor chairs:

c99734_89925c762adf47769f3ef3be769e0b55.jpg_srz_p_221_440_75_22_0.50_1.20_0The book is co-edited by David Puig, a Dominican translator, publisher, and diplomat, and Manar Moursi, an Egyptian designer and writer, as well as the founder of Studio Meem.

According to Puig and Moursi:

We first took notice of the street chairs of Cairo in 2011, walking on Port Said Avenue, which straddles the city from North to South. “A funny thing about a chair: you hardly ever think it’s there”, the American poet Theodore Roethke once wrote. And yet that day, all of a sudden, those street chairs were there. Not one or two of them, isolated, but one after the other creating some kind of invisible thread along the sidewalk.

Repaired, stitched and embellished, those chairs age graciously despite being constantly on duty outdoors. The curiosity triggered by these common objects made us realize how essential they were to the everyday life of people who spend a considerable amount of time on the sidewalk. We realized we could understand Cairo and tell some of its stories from the perspective of those street chairs.

The book, which will be published in facing-page Arabic and English, is a collection of chair photos, interviews with the sitters, as well as commissioned, chair-centered fiction and poetry by Yasser Abd El Latif, Taher al Sharqawy, Maged Zaher, Mohamed Al Fakhrani, and Amira Hanafy. Works originally conceived in Arabic were translated by Adam Talib and Elisabeth Jaquette, while English-language works were translated by Ehab Abdel-Hamid.

The project has already received support from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, the British Council, and the Embassy of the Netherlands, but needs additional help for final editing and design, printing, and shipping costs. Stretch goals include exhibitions and a map-based browsable online interface.

Read an excerpt:

At the Sidewalk Salon website


At Indiegogo

Follow the project:

On Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Meet some of the chairs: