The immortal River
Images by Laura El Tantawy

For Egyptian-born photographer, Laura El-Tantawy, life has been a series of transitions. “Living between The UK, The US and Egypt has been a source of both immense enlightenment and considerable anxiety — contemplating notions of home, identity, culture”, she says.

It’s a theme she carries through into every aspect of her work, each piece centred around a journey that not only reflects her personal life, but serves to have resonance with others. “Transition is at the very heart. What inspires me is what happens between the beginning and end of things. I don’t understand why things can start one way and end another — whether it’s relationships, work, or even the making of a photograph. I’m especially perplexed when things go from positive to negative”, she says. “I am grateful for the multi-layered experiences I have had. But sometimes I wonder what if this transition was different? If never left Egypt, who would I be and what would I have to say? These questions sometimes hold my thoughts. At their core, they are questions on identity and belonging. I take these with me everywhere I go.”

Her latest project An Immortal River is a sentimental series that not only explores the idea of transition, but also disappearance, identity, home and love. It’s a personal ode to her grandfather, who was a farmer in Egypt’s Nile Delta until the very day he died. “In making the images for this series, I am imagining the experience a viewer will have with my images 10, 20 or 30 years from now.”

Laura explains how she sees it as part of her process to explore new dimensions of creative expression, but for this moment, chooses photography. “I believe in photography as a way to share experiences rather than tell a particular story or document an event. Photography has a deeper intensity in my life as a tool for sharing rather than showing.”

Laura was born in Worcestershire, England to Egyptian parents. She attended high school in Saudi Arabia, started university in Cairo, Egypt and completed her degree in the US. Laura uses photography as an artistic medium to explore social and environmental issues pertaining to her background.

This feature was first published in Issue Two of SATORI. To explore issue one further click here.

Created by Duncan Woods & Seb Camilleri