PDN Photo of the Day

Rebuilding in America, in Exile from Egypt

In 2011, Amr Alfiqy was a medical student when Egypt’s revolution began; he served as a medic during clashes and attended protests in Tahrir Square. In 2014, he was in the U.S. to earn money and visit friends before finishing his studies when his family called to say it was not safe for him to return. His series “Northern Lights,” shot with an iPhone while working a series of low wage jobs, documents the life that he and his friends with similar stories have struggled to build for themselves in the U.S., after the revolution derailed their plans in Egypt. In the images he made, a cast of friends live out a common immigrant story. Doctors, filmmakers and lawyers in their home country here work in convenience stores and deliver food. They share small apartments and work long hours and hold on to what they can of their shared culture and network of friends, while figuring out new paths for themselves.

Alfiqy’s ambition shifted from medicine to photography, and he is now an intern with Magnum Foundation, studying and working to launch a career as a photojournalist. As he wrote about his group of smart, passionate and now exiled friends in The New York Times Lens blog, which featured the series last fall, “I wasn’t alone in my despair, sharing their pains, fears, nostalgia and dreams. As members of the generation of change, we all shared the same great disappointment” in the failure to bring change to Egypt. While many of the young people who started the revolution are not able to continue it, Alfiqy writes “My dream is for our story to be heard and to be seen.”

On Tuesday, March 21, Alfiqy discusses the series with Lens blog editor James Estrin in a one-night presentation at Half King Photo Series in New York City.

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