For over a decade Youssef Nabil has been developing three unique yet interconnected series of hand colored photographs—staged cinematic stills; portraits of artists, writers, actors and filmmakers; and haunting self-portraits. In the cinema series, the earliest of the three, Nabil pays homage to the glamour of classical Egyptian films of the 1950s, 60s and 70s that mesmerized him as a child. Specifically part of the cinema series and an early departure into his self-portrait series, CINEMA-Self Portrait, Florence, 2006 conveys Nabil’s point of view both in front of and behind the camera—simultaneously the director, the star and Egyptian cinema personified. He positions the shot angled upward focusing on his face. A mysterious dark corridor in the background frames his profile. A single fixture in the distance balances the only other source of light, the letters “CINEMA” spelled out in a golden glow above his head.
From Melissa Messina, “Youssef Nabil: I Live Within You,” Youssef Nabil: I Live Within You (exhibition catalog). Savannah College of Art and Design, 2010.