Y.N: Well I go to Paris all the time. First, because I print my work in Paris. and I come back here with it to color it.
Y.N: Yeah! Or your tailor or your dentist (laughs). Someone who knows what you like. And once you’re really happy with someone, I think it’s very difficult to find someone else!. And you know the thing about New York is that they went digital everywhere. And they can achieve an amazing result with a digital printing. Exactly like a darkroom printing. But the thing with my work – because I work with colors, watercolor, oil, and pastel – I can’t do this on digital paper. So I have to work on the old fiber paper. I’m one of the very few who are still using old photography techniques.
Y.N: I’m happy to travel for that..And then besides that I love Paris. I think New York is amazing for other qualities, but I don’t exactly feel that it’s a real city. People are here to work. It’s very cosmopolitan, you meet so many people, and it has amazing qualities for work that you cannot find in Paris…
Y.N: Sometimes it gets stressful for me and I miss something about being in Europe or around the Mediterranean, where I come from.
Y.N: I feel at home, I feel at home if you put me anywhere next to the Mediterranean, as you say.
Y.N: It’s definitely something new. It’s not shot yet. But I’m in the process of getting the funds for production. We’re almost there.
Y.N: No, it’s an art movie. It’s a short – seven to ten minutes, it’s supposed to be shot in Morocco. And I’m actually leaving tomorrow to Paris and Italy, meeting with people to see actors and casting local asian chat, and so…
Y.N: The story is closer to my self-portrait series, which is about my relationship to life, to death, to existence, to my life, to leaving Egypt, to going to other places. And all of this in relation to death, and to being reborn again somewhere else.
K.W: Because it’s interesting that you’re moving into movies. Because what I love about your photography is its stillness. So doing something quite different. Sometimes you see photographs, and you think, ‘Oh, you know they’ll make movies…’
I love Europe
Y.N: There’s not much talking in this movie. It’s like when you close your eyes and you think about old memories – sometimes they come for you as visions.
by Melissa Messina
…every portrait of another person is a “self-portrait” of the photographer… Susan Sontag 1 Ultimately, of course, every self-portrait is a fiction, a portrait of someone else. Robert A. Sobieszek 2
In three unique yet interconnected series of hand colored photographs-staged cinematic stills; portraits of artists, writers, actors and filmmakers; and haunting self-portraits-Cairo-born artist Youssef Nabil offers us his life as cinema. Paying homage to the glamour of classical Egyptian films that mesmerized him as a child, his earliest artistic expression was manifested in the cinema series. Nabil’s “never-ending fascination with cinema-its time, its glamour and stardom” translated into a style that honors this rich cultural tradition. 3 His oeuvre developed to include a portrait series of famed notables who inspired him and whose achievements mirrored his own ambitions. More recently, he turned the camera inward to capture his physical self in dreamlike landscapes, the artist as impermanent traveler. The collective imagery reflects Nabil’s longing to displace time and immortalize his encounters. They portray his need to be connected to others in this brief life. “I want to photograph everyone I love, I want to keep part of them with me, I want them to live forever through my work,” wrote Nabil. 4