There is no revolution without the opinion of the common man, and no political event takes place in a vacuum. People are the only ingredient in a country’s total upheaval, their minds driving the change and chaos like a strong collective current. Onlookers are participants too.
Harry Mitchell’s latest book, Someone Loves Someone Else doesn’t just take in Egypt’s mammoth moments in Tahrir Square and the courthouse protests against blocked democratic process. Mitchell makes sure to turn around and face Cairo’s apartment blocks and rooftops – these buildings are now made of eyes, watching the city boil over on a regular basis.
It must have taken considerable guts to photograph this environment, when news of cameramen and journalists being mauled by crowds was an everyday occurrence. Instead of letting this tension inform his work too much, Mitchell seems to have allowed quieter moments into the series. Where the world sees the CNN version of events, Mitchell sees a lone man in Moqattam, surveying south-east Cairo from above, his posture leaning and his thoughts his own. Mitchell has said that he sought to highlight ‘The space between events that are reported in the mainstream press and the context to which they belong’.
A photograph of a young urban professional woman with her Blackberry is particularly interesting. The cut of her suit is almost 70’s and the wall in the background is from another era too, faded and shabby. The technology in her hand though, that’s another matter entirely. With the Arab Spring helped along largely by effective use of the internet and social media, Mitchell’s picture here captures the static past being subverted by modern culture.
Someone Loves Someone Else has a sensitivity and soft dawn-lit beauty that allows the individual’s perspective on a multi-national movement to shine through.
Harry Mitchell Someone Loves Someone Else – Colour monograph, 17.5 x 15cm 64 Pages on 150gsm Profimatt Uncoated Softcover w/ Silkscreen card cover. Available now through Fourteen-Nineteen.
Words by Alex Ward.