Meet Israa El-Naggar, the Visual Artist Behind Cairo Mockingbird

Thursday July 2, 2018                             By: Dina Al Mahdy

38254856_10160521222820237_977933713650221056_nInspired by Berlin ArtParasites—a German social media art platform dedicated to publishing English quotes and excerpts from great literary chef d’oeuvres— visual artist Israa El-Naggar and her colleague Mohamed Gamal, author, and founder of Kotobna, a self-publishing platform, launched Cairo Mockingbird, in November 2015, to promote art, reading, and writing. The only difference between the two is that most of the works shared on Cairo Mockingbirdare by Arab writers and artists.

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Cairo Mockingbird, a name chosen to appeal to the Arab world, is named after a bird best known for its habit of mimicking the songs of other birds and the sounds of insects and amphibians—the very same objective of Cairo Mockingbird that sings an Arabic tune and lets us in on some mind-blowing Arab literature and visual art.

37768733_10160476114695237_98129823641108480_nThe page is dedicated to publishing profound humane quotes attached to stunning pieces of art, on a daily basis. Although the posted quotes express universal human emotions, such as love, anger, disappointment, fear, grief, and endurance, the page also tackles issues specific to the Arab region, such as the state of displaced Palestinians and Syrians and the common history and legacy Arabs share. This makes it very hard for followers to decide whether it is the soul-stirring writings that draw their attention or the spectacular artworks.

While preserving the intellectual property rights of artists and writers, Cairo Mockingbird publishes artworks and excerpts from various literary works, including novels, poems, prose, and written thoughts. These excerpts often tackle various topics related to our daily lives and the hardships we face.

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It also encourages amateurs and young writers and artists to become more creative by publishing their works alongside those of professionals. And by reaching a wide audience of young Arabs interested in culture, arts, and literature, Cairo Mockingbird seeks to spread cultural awareness and enhance public taste. Moreover, the page aspires to help others express and relieve their suppressed feelings and ease their pain by writing, to feel alive and exhilarated, considering writing is the best therapy.

Due to various professional responsibilities, Gamal withdrew from the page. As soon as El-Naggar started to manage it on her own, the page has developed into a more diverse platform displaying the works of amateurs.

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Reflecting on the methodology followed by El-Naggar; she demonstrates exceptional talent at matching artworks and literary works, to create harmonious posts using keywords. In, addition, she carefully selects the artworks and writings she receives from amateurs, to avoid plagiarism or infringement of intellectual copyrights, as crediting the original artists and writers is among the most important aspects of publishing on Cairo Mockingbird. She also introduced the idea of providing an English translation to the excerpts posted on the page in order to reach a wider readership and audience from all over the world.

The page has accumulated around 300,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram from the Arab world—without the help of any sponsored promotions. The page regularly receives hundreds of reviews from followers, making Cairo Mockingbirdone of the top pages in the fields of art and literature in the Arab world.

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Israa El-Naggar is a visual artist specialist at the General Authority for Cultural Palaces and a freelance trainer at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s Arts School. Born in 1990, she studied printmaking at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Alexandria University. In 2013, she joined the MASS program at the Contemporary Art Center based in Alexandria and launched an ongoing long-term project titled “Visualizing Chaos” in 2014. She also started to experiment with several mediums in her projects, including ink drawing, digital print, book art, printmaking, painting, video art, and installation. El-Naggar has exhibited her artworks in Egypt, UAE, Italy, and the USA.

Click on the links to visit Cairo Mockingbird’s Facebook page and Instagram account, and you can visit Israa el-Naggar’s profile on Behance by clicking on the following link: https://www.behance.net/Ennajjar

 References: Cairo Scene: Cairo Mockingbird Sings an Arabic Tune

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