Smaban Abbas’s Cairo airport sculpture

I arrive home from Cairo. Exhausted.  Half an hour with my laptop reveals nothing about Smaban Abbas. I’d like to meet him or her. He has nailed Cairo with one simple sculpture. I don’t even know when the work was done. It must be recent though. Perhaps he’ll see this post and contact me.

Smaban Abbas's Cairo airport sculpture

Cairo is the craziest city I’ve visited. To get to the new airport on time one needs a good three hours. The traffic is autogeddon-gridlock-grind. The taxi driver is constantly weaving, dodging, hooting and appealing to his God. The heat, noise and fumes are together overpowering. As we slowly leave the city proper, the traffic thins enough to get into a hopeful third gear. Tens of kilometres of unfinished luxury apartment blocks line the main road. These jutting rectangular monstrosities, like a jungle of teeth needing urgent dental work, stretch to the horizon. The only other things on the ground are red / brown rocks: just like the two rocks of Abbas’s statue.

The total environmental, social, political and financial madness of the city is summed up by this sculpture. You glimpse it as you drive into “Departures.” I walk away from the main building to have a closer look. How did he or she do it? Is it real? Should I caress the rope? Can it be rope? Have I got the courage to tap on the rocks to see if they are indeed rocks or maybe fibreglass? Dare I risk the disappointment? A policeman is approaching. I step back, smile and leave with my trip to Cairo complete; the statue a kind of teasing “au revoir.”

8 thoughts on “Smaban Abbas’s Cairo airport sculpture

  1. I just came across a picture of this sculpture on Imgur and Googled to find out more about the work – thus, stumbling across your website. I think the sculptor may have been Shaaban Mohamed Abbas, apparently “one of the most prominent sculptors on the Egyptian contemporary art scene”, who sadly passed away on 17 November 2010 at the young age of 41
    http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/5/25/716/Arts–Culture/Visual-Art/Sculptor-Shaaban-Abbas-passes-away-.aspx

    • Zeal, Thanks for your comment. What a tragedy! To die so young! I was fascinated by this work the minute I saw it. Do you know if there are any photos available of other sculptures of his? If you see them, send them in with a brief text and we’ll put them up on TBS. Best wishes, Robin

  2. I am the nephew of the artist and I work as a professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts( Cairo), and also a sculptor ,the information received by the previous comment is correct as I will try to send some pictures of his works .Thank you for your interest in the sculpture.

    • Mohamed,
      Really great to hear from you. And thanks for letting us know more about your uncle. He was clearly a great sculptor. If you can send us photos of any more of his work, we can post them on this blog as a kind of follow-up.
      Best wishes,
      Robin

  3. Helloo… Ths is a very nice scalpture, sorry for the passing of uncle!! Question, is it real rocks or wat?? Wat did u use for the sculpture??
    Good work!!

  4. Hi guys just i want to know that this both stone which is shown in a picture is just an Art, its not at all a Real which exist on Earth….

    Plz reply me….

  5. defying GRAVITY …WOW! AMAZING! ..I SEE A FACE ON THE TOP ROCK..RIGHT SIDE OF THE ROPE…I AM NOT ONE FOR SEEING FACES ..IN EVERYTHING…I SEE 2 EYES ..ANN A NOSE …PERFECTION…outstanding DETAILS..

  6. Great sculpture. I believe they are made from something lightweight such as plaster and may be hollow inside with framework connected to the supporting threaded rods. There is a corner chipped off the bottom rock where I can see the interior. The two supports appear to be the nose of the bottom rock touching the ground which probably has a threaded rod supporting it and connected to an interior framework. The second support is inside the core of the rope between the two rocks. It likely is using 5/8 threaded rods and they have created a rope design to disguise the rod. Knots are added to hide the rod where it enters the rock. If you notice, the rope between the two rocks and the ropes wrapped around the rocks have a completely different twist style on the ropes….
    ….at least this is what it looks like from an engineering point of view. I have not seen it in person and this is a speculation based on what I see & how to create the effect.

    It is possible to actually float rocks by using 2 magnetized iron ore rocks and have the like poles such as North and North facing each other and they will repel or float. However, the top rock would want to slide away so a post or enclosure would be needed to force the floating rock to remain in place. This does not apply to the rocks in the photo. It is just an idea how to create a real floating rock.

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