Tracing Erased Memories is a multi-media walk created by Dina Mohamed and Hilda Moucharrafieh running until 20th August as part of the Camden Fringe.
Each walk takes 45 minutes and there are a maximum of two participants for each slot, as you are carefully guided by either Dina or Hilda. A good idea given the vagaries of London traffic (both pedestrian and vehicular).
This isn’t just any parallel walk though. Armed with a tablet and headphones, you are transported, not just to Cairo today, but also to Cairo 2011 during the Egyptian Revolution. While in London, you are both physically present today and witnessing stories about the 2010 student protests in London.
The memories of 8 different witnesses (evenly split between London and Cairo) transport you to these different moments of protest. As you walk through modern London, you can’t help feeling the fear of both the Cairo and London protesters. The chaos of those moments, when the state turned against their own young. The fear experienced by those protesters, as well as that witnessed on the faces of the police. Fear on both sides never ends well.
The stakes for the protesters are very different – the London police employed brutal kettling measures to control the student protests, while in Cairo the protesters faced live ammunition and the threat of death – but what is consistent is the sense of bewilderment by those involved at the level of violence being used against them. I really felt the confusion and chaos of those two different moments of resistance. In the London memories there is also a strong sense of trouble-makers looking to escalate things, shifting the news story away from that of tuition fees, towards that of violence and hooliganism.
The tablet shares video captured during both protests, as well as footage of those same places in Cairo today (not needed for London as you are physically standing where events occurred). The modern day Cairo element is pre-recorded because, as Dina and Hilda shared with me, those parts of the city are heavily militarised today. Someone walking through multiple times a day filming for a piece about resistance could be in genuine danger, a very sobering thought.
This 45 minute walk packs in a lot of memories and feelings, I felt shaken by the end of it, having born witness to two different countries turning on their own people because they demanded to be heard. It feels very timely, particularly as all eyes are now on the protests in Hong Kong.
Tracing Erased Memories has multiple time slots across the afternoon and evening and goes ahead come rain or shine (they come armed with very large umbrellas). Their final day is tomorrow and it is well worth experiencing it if you can, before it ends. You can find out more here: https://www.camdenfringe.com/show.php?acts_id=2686