A solo exhibition of photography by David Degner
MASQ – Maq’ad of Sultan Qaitbey
Eastern Cemetery, City of the Dead
September 28–October 10, 2017
David Degner is a photographer from Georgia, USA, who has been based in Egypt since 2010 and who has also worked extensively throughout other parts of the Middle East as well. His photojournalistic work has been published by dozens of renowned outlets and is represented by Getty Reportage. In addition to his many assignments, Degner also worked steadily on a personal project he calls Modern Mircales.
While traveling throughout Egypt, Degner often heard about miracles and that they come in many forms: miracles that are written about in newspapers, for example, or miracles that are only discussed confidentially. His pursuit of these stories lead him to nearly every part of the country: from cities to villages, from mountains to valleys, from deserts to seas. He diligently tracked even the faintest whisper of a miracle story to its source and sought to understand people’s individual experiences and the apparent purpose of these miracles.
Modern Miracles is rooted in a relentless question that dates back to Degner’s days as a student of philosophy and evolved into an attempt to photograph the places where the material and the immaterial meet. Today the project comprises an extensive collection of images depicting miracles in Egypt not as something rare and abstract, but as everyday occurrences. This solo exhibition is a result of his personal project that has been five years in the making.
Modern Miracles is now exhibited in the Eastern Cemetery within the so-called City of the Dead, also known as the Desert of the Mamluks, an Islamic necropolis and cemetery below the Mokattam Hills in southeastern Cairo.
The exhibition’s fascinating venue is the recently-restored 15th-century Maq‘ad of Sultan Qaitbey. It is the only surviving section of a palace that this once-sultan of Egypt built in 1474 as part of the vast complex constructed in the cemetery around his mausoleum. In a city with opulent history at every turn, this recently-restored ma’qad, or loggia, is considered one of the most valuable and significant landmarks of Cairo. It is listed as a historic monument and is even commemorated prominently on the Egyptian 1-pound note. The space was built in the architectural style of the late Mamlouk period and has a long history of restorations, yet it was ARCHiNOS Architecture who ultimately planned, documented, and completed the recent conservation of the 15th-century building in 2016 and has since turned it into a cultural hub that serves both the local community and a broader public.
Modern Miracles at MASQ is the first time that selected work from Degner’s self-assigned project is shown publicly. The project is curated by Alexandra Stock and has been made possible with the generous support of the Sultan Foundation, MASQ Ma’qad Sultan Qaitbey, ARCHiNOS Architecture, Agnieszka Dobrowolska, Shadi Momtaz, and George Seif.