eL Seed: A project of peace, painted across 50 buildings
eL Seed - Artist
French-Tunisian artist eL Seed blends the historic art of Arabic calligraphy with graffti to portray messages of beauty, poetry and peace across all continents. Full bio
an art piece in Manshiyat Naser,
garbage collectors in Egypt,
that I would ever live.
this humanist intention
and neglected neighborhood
shining light on this isolated community.
this Christian Coptic community
under the regime of Hosni Mubarak
using the pretext of H1N1 virus.
are fed with the organic waste
it felt like a maze.
on the top of the Muqattam Mountain.
then right again, then left
the trucks overpacked with garbage
in the neighborhood.
unloaded from those trucks was intense,
was loud and overbearing.
in those warehouses along the way.
but everything is perfectly organized.
they call themselves,
neighborhood for decades.
one of the most efficient
on a global level.
as dirty, marginalized and segregated
with the trash.
was to create an anamorphic piece,
from one vantage point.
by painting over several buildings
from one point on the Muqattam Mountain.
is the pride of the community.
the St. Simon Monastery,
that they carved into the mountain itself.
I stood on top of the mountain
will I convince all those owners
to convince was Father Samaan,
I needed to convince Mario,
who moved to Cairo 20 years ago
of the Cave Church.
He was the key of the project.
a meeting with Father Samaan,
by what I was going to write.
I write messages
to the place where I am painting
can relate to it.
the words of St. Athanasius of Alexandria,
to see the sunlight clearly
felt connected to the words.
reflecting the spirit of the project.
all the residents on board.
a dozen blue manual lifts,
North Africa, Middle East and the US,
and logistics, there we are,
from the local community
spread over 50 buildings,
of the calligraphy
there some orange.
on the top of the buildings
and disassembling those same lifts
the different buildings.
buildings on my sketch,
with the community.
became family names.
was the house of Uncle Ibrahim.
an enthusiastic person.
saved me from his bull
on the fourth floor.
and came out on the balcony.
hanging out on the balcony
go to the mountain for 10 years,
who will stop the garbage?
at the end of the project,
to look at the piece.
to see his house painted,
was a project of peace and --
of peace and unity
towards the project changed,
the community changed also,
is disgusted by is not theirs.
They live from the garbage.
of this whole project?
a place by bringing art to it.
and opening a dialogue
with communities that we don’t know.
on the mountain to look at the piece.
every day made my realize
this anamorphic piece.
the real image of somebody,
to work in such environments,
while you paint
to reach a lift.
of the heights, the swinging lifts,
of not finishing on time.
made us forget everything.
of Uncle Bakheet and Aunty Fareeda.
this expression that says, "Ahsen Nas,"
in front of their houses,
by the kids of Manshiyat Naser.
refusing anything we were offering them,
their kids to refuse anything
needs it more than they do.
was the ideal context
our level of misconception
based on their differences.
on Uncle Ibrahim's house
that hold the lifts.
and Aunty Fareeda
a project of peace and unity,
that people were coming together.
with a smile, offering us a drink
own house for lunch.
at the first level of a building,
and offers you some tea.
on the second floor.
as I did in Egypt.
we could have finished earlier,
because of all those tea breaks.
which is "Nawartouna,"
they were always telling us this.
for the calligraphy
we rented some black light projectors
who brought light to us.
are strong, honest, hard workers,
call them "the Zabaleen,"
the people of Manshiyat Naser
who produce the garbage, not them.
to this community,
who left something in our lives.
was just a pretext
will disappear, vanish,
who is building a second floor
and paint over it.
that we should all think about
the sunlight clearly
About the speaker:eL Seed - Artist
French-Tunisian artist eL Seed blends the historic art of Arabic calligraphy with graffti to portray messages of beauty, poetry and peace across all continents.
Why you should listen
Born in Paris to Tunisian parents, eL Seed travels the world, making art in Paris, New York, Jeddah, Melbourne, Gabes, Doha and beyond. His goal: to create dialogue and promote tolerance as well as change global perceptions of what Arabic means. In 2012, for instance, he painted a message of unity on a 47-meter-high minaret on the Jara mosque in Gabes, Tunisia. This piece and others can be found in his book, Lost Walls: Graffiti Road Trip through Tunisia
Most recently he created a sprawling mural in the Manshiyat Naser neighborhood of Cairo that spans 50 buildings and can only be viewed from a local mountaintop. Intending to honor the historic garbage collectors of the Manshiyat Naser neighborhood, the piece reads, "Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eye first."
eL Seed | Speaker | TED.com