This Italian Multi-Talented Artist Considers Egypt His Second Home
Many Egyptians nowadays dream of fleeing the country, some even resort to that solution as they find better opportunities abroad. Imagine things the other way around, when a foreigner finds home in our country. This is what exactly happened with Italian Author, Artist and Teacher, Carmine Cartolano, also known as Qarm Qart.
Cartolano first moved to Egypt in 1999, when a friend of his suggested traveling to the country for six months. At that time, Carmine wasn’t so sure of his future as he had just finished university, so he immediately agreed to go on that adventure with his friend. What mostly encouraged him was that he had already studied Arabic in college and wanted to practice the language. So, Egypt seemed like a good idea, and it turned out to be just that. He fell in love with the vibes from day one, it felt just like home for him and adapting was super easy.
To be able to afford the Arabic classes during his stay, he needed a job. That’s why he started teaching Italian at the Italian Cultural Institute and also gave classes at the Don Bosco Institute. He expanded his circle of friends, hanged out with locals more often and watched Egyptian movies. He even recorded radio programs, replayed them and sometimes wrote down the whole dialogue. He practiced in every way possible, especially because he couldn’t communicate with standard Arabic. He had to learn the Egyptian dialect.
In addition to teaching, Cartolano also happens to be an artist specialized in collage art and mixed media. It all started when he offered to help an Italian friend, Derno Ricci, to fix two of his photographs for his exhibition at Mashrabia Gallery. He turned both pieces into collage pieces and to everyone’s surprise, one of them was the first to be sold in the exhibition. As he grabbed attention of the gallery’s owner, they ended up working on another exhibition together, “2Kitching”, which soon lead to one of his own. His first solo exhibition was in 2011 right after the revolution. The concept of his project, “If”, revolved around the idea of “what if something else was done to Mubarak’s photos that were taken down?”
During his stay in Egypt, Cartolano found the writer inside of him by coincidence. It all happened because of a friend who found his blog posts funny and suggested he’d start writing in Arabic. As he received positive feedback on his Arabic translations, he decided he had to write something from scratch. That’s when “Masriyano”, his first book, was born. His second book, Momo, soon came after. Momo’s story-line is about an Italian who illegally travels to Egypt. In his book, Cartolano raised the issue of illegal immigration as he believes it’s one of two highly crucial matters. That’s why he swapped the common situation where an Egyptian would like to flee the country illegally; to Italy for instance, and turned it the other way around. The other crucial issue he also discussed in his book was the sexual harassment taboo.