VIDEO: ‘into egypt’ by Waleed Zaiter and Suheir Hammad //
“Suheir’s work resonates on so many levels for me, allowing a lot of room for my imagination to wander conceptually,” Waleed says. “The poem is a snapshot of an intense moment in human history. It’s a metaphor for transformation. It’s a spell to dismantle mechanisms of fear. It’s an oracle. It’s the blues.
“I tried my best to capture the myriad of thoughts and feelings I had when I read ‘into egypt.’ Some things were planned from the beginning, but we left a lot of room for the vision to grow and change organically over the course of production, incorporating the accidents along the way.”
The video is obviously a brilliant collaboration. Beyond featuring guest stars like Mona Eltahawy, Waleed tells us about how he, Suheir, and Director of Photography and Editor George Cox put their heads together for this creation.
In this collaboration, my main role was to act as a bridge between two creative forces: the world of metaphor and non-linear thinking that Suheir inhabits and the nuts and bolts reality of production that George represents. It was tricky to calibrate at times, but once we synced up it was pure magic.
“From the outset, Suheir granted me complete creative freedom with her work, which was a huge blessing. I felt free brainstorming ideas. When George came on board the project became much larger in scope. He’s a one man army! He basically moved his entire production studio into my apartment for two months. That kind of trust and generosity is the greatest asset to self initiated projects like these. All the amazing people who came together for this project did so out of love. The same way people came together and toppled Mubarak, right?”
As for what he wants viewers to take away from the video, he says:
I want them to see themselves in it, the way I see myself in Suheir’s poetry. If I transmit even a fraction of the energy I get from the people everywhere overcoming their fear then my hopes would be fulfilled.
“I want what I think most artists want from their audience, and that’s for them to feel a little more inspired after seeing it.” Suheir adds, she wants people to take away: “A higher vibration. But not take. Share.”