Young at age yet wild at heart is the unique Miss Nelly El-Sharkawy. Born in 1995 in Cairo, Egypt, Nelly El-Sharkawy is an architect and a conceptual street and architectural photographer. Her passion in photography began to flourish as early as 2011 and ignites everyday through her revolutionary projects. Nominated in the Foam Paul Huf Award 2017 and in the Architectural top ten photos in El Sharka award. Above all, she won two awards as the best innovative photograph in the Cairo Camera Club and The CIB prize in the 25th youth salon. Certainly, Nelly El-sharkawy photography is the case where passion and talent colloid to create a boundless experience. So, let’s have a glimpse on what’s it like to have phenomenal photography skills and have a closer look on this curious case.
This project highlights the diversity of architectural styles that can be found in one district in Cairo. “The whole idea started back when I was in college” said Nelly. “I couldn’t judge any building saying that this has a good design and that has a bad one”. To solve this issue, Nelly started roaming around Cairo keeping an eye on the details of each building. Then, she began taking pictures of interesting elements in each building within each district. Starting with windows to doors, terraces, entrances, finishing materials and of course the design itself. “I began to mix and match those details together to create a building that represents each district in Cairo.” And that was the motive behind this exceptional project. In this project and through Nelly’s magical eyes, you will get to see the identity of various Egyptian districts.
One more extraordinary idea was born with this project. “I’ve always admired slums! Yes, they don’t have those fancy architectural elements in their buildings, but they have something much more than those visible things” explained Nelly El-Sharkawy. “These buildings are designed based on needs and not luxury or rules, and this has made them more human than any other design”. In this photography project, Nelly played with our minds a little in order to express her point of view. In her opinion, Nelly believes that the problem of slum’s buildings not regarded as beautiful only relies in the context. So, removing these buildings out of their context and placing them in another one might be a way out for these buildings to speak for themselves and make an independent statement.
“When I mingled around the gallery showcasing this project and listened to people’s comments (not knowing that I was the one who designed this project) they were wondering where are these beautiful places. It was in that very special moment that I realized that I have achieved what I wanted in the first place, a different perspective” playfully said Nelly. And indeed, she did!
When Sub-consciousness Defeats Reality
“This photography project is a combination between self-portraits and objects to create distinctive compositions in my mind” explained Nelly. “I like the idea of deceiving; when different mediums blend together to create a product that is out of this world”. In this project Nelly El-Sharkawy mainly worked with 3D visualizations to form these pieces of art. Each photograph here, has a message to tell and all you need to do is to open your heart and mind to grasp what this exceptional photographer trying to tell you.
Utopian Chaos is a reverie, an enterprise and a test of a theory. In this project, Nelly compares between sketches and real life. These sketches belonged to the architect Paolo Soleri that represented his theory of Arcosanti. The theory claims that if cities reduce their dependence on automobiles in addition to allowing agriculture to be situated near them, then these cities would be perfect to live in or in other words, Utopian. The real life in which the sketches are compared to is some photographs of an existing village of Outa in Fayoum, Egypt. Although the village grows its own food and doesn’t completely depend on automobiles and so a perfect way to apply the theory Arcosanti. However, when these sketches that represented the theory blended with the real life photographs, the result wasn’t as desired.
“Everything that Paolo ever dreamed of was found in this village, but the question is: Are the people living there actually happy?”. Nelly added that the villagers suffer from poverty, ignorance and health issues. These people are theoretically living in Paolo’s Utopia, yet practically living in chaos. Therefore, in this project, Nelly El-Sharkawy lets your mind muse to between fiction and reality.
The project’s name is derived from the Toucan birds. These birds have vibrant colors to help them camouflage in the dense forest. This photography project works just as the bird. Toucan Toco is based on focusing on the hidden details of the buildings you pass by daily without noticing. By removing these details from their context and putting them in a totally different colorful context you start noticing and perceiving the architectural details in a new and unexpected way. “It’s about picturing interesting architectural elements and playing around with colors” explained Nelly.
To sum up, experiencing Nelly El-Sharkawy’s photography is an unbeatable escapade. It’s a journey to Nelly’s own world. You can always see her works of art in many galleries and exhibitions all around Egypt. Some of which include Zamalek Art Gallery, B’sarya, TU Berlin Campus El Gouna, SOMA art school and many others. In addition to that, you can even see her photography collections on: Nelly El-Sharkawy photography website .So, that was just a tiny glimpse of what’s it like to be Nelly El-Sharkawy. So, make some time to enjoy her unlimited creativity and outstanding photography. If you’re interested to know more about inspiring women, check: Interview with Shosha Kamal.