Egyptian voyages: Gustave Flaubert, Maxime Du Camp, and Fouad Elkoury

2016-08-10T14:08:07Z (GMT) by Kathryn Brown
This article analyses a suite of black-and-white photographs entitled Egyptian Suite produced by the Franco-Lebanese photographer Fouad Elkoury between 1985 and 1990 and published in book format in 1999. This work retraces the journey to Egypt undertaken by Gustave Flaubert and Maxime Du Camp in 1849–50 and calls into question the colonialist assumptions that underpin their textual and photographic records. Through a close reading of individual images, it is argued that Egyptian Suite stages an interplay between authorial control and the randomness of mechanical recording in a way that undermines the colonialist viewpoint of Flaubert and Du Camp’s image of the ‘Orient’. In his visual interrogation of the idea of Egypt advanced in this nineteenth-century account, Elkoury also poses questions about the ontology of photography and reflects on ways in which photography may be conceptualised as an art form.