Natacha sleeping, Cairo 2000


Hand colored gelatin silver print, printed in 2014

75 x 115 cm

Egyptian-born singer Natacha Atlas, lying with her eyes closed on an Arab sofa adorned with golden threads, seems to have been caught by the photographer in a moment of dreamy lassitude. The shimmering patterns on her body evoke the traditional costumes of belly dancers.

Reenacting the codes of orientalist iconography in this carefully composed portrait, Egyptian photographer Youssef Nabil stages an old fantasy of the sensual, eroticised Arab woman. Hand-colouring to achieve painterly aesthetics gives the prints an old-fashioned charm, visually and technically paying tribute to the golden age of Egyptian cinema.

Acquired by the Pinault Collection, Natacha Sleeping, Cairo 2000 is being exhibited for the first time during Nabil's 2020 solo show “Once Upon A Dream” at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice.