"Nasr's Egypt is only a metaphor for a web of issues that reach far beyond the strictly local confines of his country. The work presented here is the product of fifty years of independence echoing questions posed throughout the continent, and beyond this, perhaps even echoing the basic questions posed by existentialist philosophers such as Edmund Husserl and Jean-Paul Sartre. What is freedom? What is initiative? How should we view ourselves within a context that is both specific and invasive? How should we view ourselves outside this context? And finally, who are we exactly when we say "I"? Is this "I" simply the echo of a history of which we are at once the inheritors and the destroyers? Does this "I" represent a specific and unique entity, genuinely and intrinsically free to seek fulfillment? Or are we rather condemned to play our part in a collective story, the denouement of which was predetermined way back in the mists of time? A story of which we can never become the author, as our deeds, our gestures and our most private thoughts have already been formulated for us? What does this "I" represent, ultimately, if not an aborted dream? A useful dream, such as the illusions of pan-Africanism which never came to pass or the illusion of independence movements which happened to become nothing but failures and disappointments? The answer is complex and presupposes an in-depth analysis of the postcolonial phenomenon that has helped to shape the essence of contemporary Africa. However, artistic creativity, providing a magnified reflection of the societies that have forged it, none the less offers us a few sketchy outlines of an answer. It does so through the work of people who owe it to themselves to play apart in the making of history."
- Excerpt from 'Moataz Nasr, or the Evidence of Things not Seen' by Simon Njami
Moataz Nasr, published by Darat al Funun - The Khalid Shoman Foundation, 2006