In the heart of Egypt, following the course of the Nile, one of the poorest and most inhabited regions of the country develops. It is called Minya – taking its name from its capital – and besides being the home of more than 4 million people it houses the largest Egyptian limestone quarries that provide work for most men and adolescents. The scenery offered by the quarries of Minya is unique in the world: under the scorching sun and high temperatures of the Sahara desert stands an immense expanse of white stone that manages to give life to an almost lunar landscape. Fascinated by this place, its colors, and its deadly charm, photographer Nader Saadallah spent some time there, immortalizing the faces of the miners and witnessing the phases in which the extraction process is divided.
First of all, the mountain must be equalized using winches and peaks; then the stone is modeled and divided into blocks using a machine called “El fasalah”; the third phase involves extraction through a specific machine called “El hashasha”; finally, the vehicles ready for transport are filled. Each of these phases hides dangers and risks for which the Egyptian miners are not adequately prepared or equipped, a prerequisite that transforms their daily work in a continuous battle against fatal accidents.
Nader Saadallah’s photographs have the strength to capture all this: the white powder of limestone inexorably envelops everything and fills the air, making it impossible to see the sky and covering the dark skin of the miners. What remains imprinted on the viewer? The glances, the eyes of the workers that tell what we can’t see in the images.