Haya Khairat is the fifth Artist of the Month in our year-long series with Art Egypt spotlighting Egyptians artists.
by Art Egypt photography courtesy Haya Khairat
Haya Khairat is a 21-year-old cinematography student whose photography is as dramatic and atmospheric as any great film. Whether it’s black and white photos of Cairo, still lives of simple, everyday moments, or colorful portraits, each work shows Khairat’s focus on composition and light.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’ve just turned 21 last January, so yeah I’m a Capricorn and yeah I do believe in astrology. I’m currently studying cinematography at the High Cinema Institute after a failed trial of moving to the UK to study there. Unfortunately, God wants me to stay in our beloved Egypt.
It wasn’t the easiest thing at all to get accepted at the High Cinema Institute, as we go through several examinations and a workshop where professors choose who they want in their department. In cinematography, it is way harder because they rarely accept girls. But when I did get accepted, it was like a dream finally coming true because I never was a good student in school. I have always said I am going to be successful one day and I’m going to prove that, and I guess I’m on the road to doing so, finally!
I actually also wanted to study fine arts, and I’m still considering doing a masters. When I chose cinematography, it was the hardest decision to ever make, because deep inside I know I’m going to be a director at the end of this path but I also can’t let someone else operate the camera for me or light up the scenes. Selfish? Yeah (laughs). So you can say that I am the cinematographer and director that has yet to evolve.
What inspires your art?
Mainly real events that occur in my life, or visuals of things I want to do and can’t. Like in my Cotton Candy project, which is mainly about a girl that daydreams about a day with her lover in the place where she grew up, and shows him all the colors of her soul.
How has your artwork changed and evolved over the years?
I can see huge changes in my work and specifically in the past year, after I have been reading a lot and watching different kinds of films. Like everyone else, I used to only watch American and English movies, but since last year I started exploring international cinema (mainly European). And God, this changed me in my way of seeing things, art directing my shots, composition and even the music that plays in my mind while shooting. It changed a lot!
And to be honest, the institute had a huge effect as well. There are several subjects that made me realize a lot of things about how the props, lighting, colors, or even the headroom or cutting and sizes of the frame affects your photograph or video. Also, the fact that I am currently working in the field made me realize how many different film schools there are, and made me want to know them all and then establish my own — the one that suits who I am and the message I want to convey through my art. These are the main reasons why I think I have improved this year specifically.
What do you like most about your art?
I don’t think one can say what they like about their art, or if they can then they are not very willing to improve. I honestly cannot say anything about that except that I never photograph something that I don’t feel, or something that I am obliged to do. Sometimes, I just don’t accept certain projects because they are shallow, or because they don’t have anything to say other than wanting to capture some beautiful shots of people. And that is something I find impossible to do.
What are your thoughts on the art scene in Egypt?
I know this might sound weird, but I like the art scene here. We face a lot of struggles, and to be able to capture something throughout the chaos we are living in is nearly impossible. It is way easier out there in Europe or in any other country where art is something normal.
I think we, Egyptians, are greater than the rest because we still stand out, even while having very few opportunities and luck. I guess I am loving it here — the art scene is so hard to find, and that’s what makes it different.
Who are your favorite Egyptian visual artists?
The amazing Aly Aly. I guess he is the main reason for the transformation that happened in the ads through the past couple of years. He made a change, and so he is an idol! Nancy Abdelfatah, the woman who made me believe that it might be possible for me to achieve what I want. And Beshary, the man who made me believe in myself in the first place.
Apart from them, there are several people out there whose work I really love, for instance Eslam Abdelsalam, Dania Hany, Maria Saba, Aisha AlShabrawy, Mostafa elKashef, Salma Fahmy, Engy Mohsen, and Nadia (@Froufrou).
What are your plans for the future?
Honestly, I want to be the next director of photography that introduces a new school of lighting. At the end of this path, a director that will impact the world with their movies. I want to make my art matter, to anyone. But I don’t think my art should be understood the way I want it to be. I want people to interpret what I give them and let them feel something.
At the end of the day, art is my only way to explain things when all the languages of the world fail. And it is mainly for myself.
Art Egypt (@art_egypt) is an Instagram account that boasts the largest database of young artists in the country. They aim to promote con- temporary fine art from today’s most talented Egyptian artists. To be considered for upcoming Artist of the Month features, send your artwork to Art Egypt at firstname.lastname@example.org.