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‘Photo Kegham of Gaza: Unboxing’ Exhibit Opens at the French Institute

The exhibition tells the story of Kegham Djeghalian Senior, the godfather of photography in Gaza.

Patrick Davies

‘Photo Kegham of Gaza: Unboxing’ Exhibit Opens at the French Institute

The French Institute in Downtown Cairo is hosting the ‘Photo Kegham of Gaza: Unboxing’ Exhibition this Friday, April 26th. Starting at 6 PM, the exhibit showcases a painstaking curation of photos from Gaza’s first photographer, Kegham Djeghalian, put together by his grandson, artist and creative director Kegham Djeghalian Junior.

Djeghalian Sr. founded Gaza’s first photography studio, capturing and developing thousands of photos over the years, whilst also democratising photography through education; he is considered to be the godfather of photography in Gaza. Today, Djeghalian Sr.’s vast archive is more endangered than ever - along with the entirety of Gaza - as Israel’s genocidal campaign continues to rain bombs on Palestinians and their homes.

“Three red boxes of negatives, some family-owned photo memorabilia, scattered stories about my grandfather Kegham, and the knowing that his photographic archive in Gaza is practically unattainable to me, that is all I had of his legacy when I started this project in 2018,” Kegham Djeghalian Jr. tells CairoScene.

This exhibition, which has been displayed before in Egypt’s capital in 2021 for Cairo Photo Week, shows just a fraction of Djeghalian Sr.’s full archive, focusing on the legacy of the prolific photographer and confronting a fragmented, non-linear reading of all of Gaza’s histories. Even the lack of captions, description or dates on most photos demonstrates the disrupted narratives and contexts within which life in Gaza takes place.

“The ruptures inherent in this project at hand call for a collective participation in an alternative historiography of Gaza in the face of erasure,” Kegham Jr. explains. “One which aims to demystify the land, the people and the subjective histories that once were.”

Through his grandfather’s myriad works, Kegham Jr. reaches back through his own heritage, depicting the very ordinary lives of Gaza’s people in a context that is now impossible to imagine during the ongoing genocide. As of today, the death toll in Gaza has now reached 34,183, including more than 14,500 children, since the Israeli military onslaught began in October 2023, with thousands more remaining unaccounted for in the official records.


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