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.”