• Press Release

Perception | eL Seed and the Garbage People of Cairo


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French-Tunisian Artist eL Seed, Releases ‘Perception’

a 1st-Person Account Detailing the Process of Creating A 50 Building-Wide Mural in Tribute to the Garbage Collecting Community of Cairo

With a foreword by Glenn D. Lowry, the book will be released on October 4th 2018, at the MoMa


(New York, NY, Sept 2018) – Known for his large-scale, often politically motivated work incorporating Arabic calligraphy, the French-Tunisian artist eL Seed is releasing his first publication, a 300 page book titled Perception. Documenting his personal and artistic journey learning about and collaborating with the marginalized Zaraeeb community, the book sheds light on the Manshyat Naser district, the neighborhood of the Cairo garbage collectors who run the most efficient recycling system in the world.


With a foreword by Glenn D. Lowry, the director at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the book will be launched on Thursday October 4th, 2018. An intimate conversation with the artist, led by Lowry will take place that day from 5–6PM in the Founders Room, 6th Floor, 11 West 53rd Street, MoMa, followed by a reception and book signing from 6–7:30PM in the MoMa Bookstore.


The limited / collectors edition features pages of recycled paper sourced from the community and each slipcase is hand painted, designed to make one part of a larger image of the final artwork (much like a jigsaw puzzle, when all 500 copies come together, they make a full, hand painted image of the mural).


Perception, both the name of the large-scale mural and the title of the book, is the artist’s most ambitious work to date. The mural spans across 50 buildings in the center of Cairo, Egypt, and is designed to be seen in its entirety from the nearby Mokattam Mountain, overlooking the segregated area of the marginalized Coptic community.

The anamorphic piece displays the words of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, a Coptic Bishop from the Third Century stating: ‘Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eyes first.’


eL Seed set out to change the perceptions and stereotypes of these peoples, shedding light on their decades-long history of being the collectors and sorters of the city’s garbage, and defying the stereotype that these people would themselves be filthy and unsanitary. The story, illustrated with never-before-seen photographs taken by the artist and his team, chronicles not only the artist’s own experience of acceptance and setting aside preconceptions, but also includes several interviews with members of the neighborhood. Translated from its original French, Perception follows eL Seed’s adventure from the idea’s conception to a first visit to the area, the struggles of undertaking the project, the people they met and learned from, the setting aside of preconceptions and judgments, finding generosity, kindness, and the building of relationships and family.


The artist considers the mural project as simply the pretext for an amazing human experience.


“This project restored my faith in humanity. I learned to stop judging people according to stereotypes and to make an effort to discover who they really are” eL Seed, (Perception, 2018)





Perception will be released on Thursday October 4th, 2018, celebrating with an intimate conversation with the artist, and Museum of Modern Art director Glenn Lowry. Join us at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, from 5–6PM in the Founders Room, 6th Floor, 11 West 53rd Street, MoMa. A reception and book signing will follow: 6–7:30PM in the MoMa Bookstore.


Perception, both the name of the large-scale mural and the title of the book, is the artist’s most ambitious work to date. The mural spans across 50 buildings in the center of Cairo, Egypt, and is designed to be seen in its entirety from the nearby Mokattam Mountain, overlooking the segregated area of the marginalized Coptic community. The anamorphic piece displays the words of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, a Coptic Bishop from the Third Century stating: ‘Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eyes first.’


eL Seed set out to change the perceptions and stereotypes of these peoples, shedding light on their decades-long history of being the collectors and sorters of the city’s garbage, and defying the stereotype that these people would themselves be filthy and unsanitary. The story, illustrated with never-before-seen photographs taken by the artist and his team, chronicles not only the artist’s own experience of acceptance and setting aside preconceptions, but also includes several interviews with members of the neighborhood.


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