Cairo Talking Heads


teeth & tongue will be in Cairo very soon.

this blog will document their encounters in the cairosphere.

teeth & tongue don't speak arabic at all, they are too lazy.

however they would like to be other people's voice.

record yourself saying anything in arabic you want to hear from us.

use the recorder on the right, but don't tell us what it means.

teeth & tongue will repeat your speech as identic as possible and put it back on this blog, following the talking heads principle.

teeth & tongue, as a membrane of you, thank you.

some of the posts contain large audiofiles, so be patient if you have a slow connection.

use headphones and the Mozilla Firefox internet browser for best results.

find your way and make your own sound mix.


CTH presentation at Sphinx Agency

Here some links to audio recordings made during our presentation of the Cairo Talking Heads project on thursday 29. march at the Sphinx Agency in Cairo.
These are live readings in Arabic by Hoda Hussein and Ashraf Ibrahim.
Thanks to everyone who came to that evening !

THALAAT HARB (include one text by teeth & tongue, translation by Dina Kabil and excerpts from a post by activist blogger Sandmonkey)
CHLOREE (Zara) by Teeth, translation by Hoda Hussein
SHAABI WEDDING by Teeth, translation by Hoda Hussein

Enjoy and keep posted for some pictures from the performance and more informations about that evening.


Activist blogger Al Sharkawy about TH

Your imitation of the Abdel Karim post is very good, beside a few sounds that are anyway difficult to pronounce for non-native speakers. I think that it can have a positive effect for the freedom of expression, because very often the repetition of the same message in a different form will increase its strength and potential. In any case everyone should recognise that your imitations require a hard work from your side because you don’t speak Arabic and this aspect should contribute to draw attention to what is being transmitted.

The activist bloggers consider their blogs as an extension of the street and also the street as an extension of the virtual space of the internet. We use the blogs to organise the demonstrations, invite people to join in and then go and demonstrate, get arrested and report about that on the blogs. The popularity of my blog do have an effect on my own daily live. Sometimes people recognize me on the street and congratulate me for doing this. Most of the activists are bloggers and also friends. Our faces are well known by the state security, that’s why we cannot just meet and demonstrate peacefully. Our goal is to wake up the street to claim for a real freedom of expression. We believe that generally people feel solidary even if they are afraid to join us. The foreigners who come to witness what happens here are useful to us, because they report about these events and give us more visibility outside of Egypt.


Divine processing

Heliopolis - basilica. Traffic sounds from the surrounding streets recorded from inside the church, beeing processed through the natural reverberation of the space. You'll find a longer excerpt of this recording HERE


Yacoub's Island - thursday night

A small and green island in the south on the Nile, lots of birds & insects, party boats passing by and the whole night soundscape from the surrouding City.
You'll find a longer excerpt of this recording HERE


Trapped around Talaat Harb

No dadaism in this text plagiated and transformed by Teeth, originally written by blogger Sandmonkey.

25th of March

Whenever someone would stop, they would tell them they couldn't stand where they were standing and that they had to move along.

When we try to cross the street towards them the police wouldn’t let us, and then they do allow us to cross the street but not get on the otherside of the pavement, forcing us to go back and cross the street again.

I hear Salma say: "Fuck this" and start running across the street towards the square with the other girl

Right before they reach the square they are tackled by the police who swarms on them from every direction.


All the whole the police officers are pushing us to move forward.

Plainclothed police thugs run after him and hold him and start to pull him towards the Paddywagon.

Picture by Amr Abdallah.

One of his friends is being grabbed as well and thrown in the same car with him, and then the car starts moving taking them to an unknown destination.

The other demonstrators break free and walk towards Talaat Harb square, while chanting slogans.

The police encircles the protesters.
They push the protesters together and beat them.
On top of the sound of the battle, you can hear distinct female screams.
The egyptians walking on the street stand there, some of them take their cellphones out and use their cameraphones to videotape what's going on while joking about it. I really hate them at the moment.


As if they were not hearing the same screams we are hearing.

R. yells at the police, while H. grabs her and M. pulls on them both, and Alia is trying to reason with the officers behind us.

When we finally reach the other side we see the big Police Paddywagon leave and move. I look around me and notice that besides the 10 people who have been joining me on the other side, I am surrounded by foreigners. But all the egyptians are gone. The Police selects the egyptians from the big mob and throw them and only them into the paddywagon. Anyone who looks foreign they let go. This mean that Bassem and Hosam, alongside of Malek and Salma, have been all arrested.

Malek getting arrested. Picture by Nasser Nouri.

He seems really disturbed. He urges us to move faster and to get him inside the syndicate as fast as possible, so we hussle and we get him in. Alia notices that he isn't acting like his usual self. To any of our inquiries about what is wrong with him, he keeps silent, sullen.


The number of SS soldiers starts to increase.
It isn't a good sign.
Many of the foreign journalists, now satisfied with the story they had, start leaving the area.
It also isn't a good sign.
We notice that the police doesn’t let her egyptian companions through.
It defintely isn't a good sign.
We are being trapped here.

Some of them get into cabs and order the drivers to follow the Paddywagons to bloody God knows where.


Thalaat Harb Square, 20 mars, 13h15-15h00

Air France Groppi Abat-jour, l’ombre en pointe du Tulip Hotel, Internet Café Mabdouly Bookshop, façade convexe d’un immeuble aux volets verts fermés, Accessories For Next Women, signal atonal d’un talkie-walkie, Ibera, Alitalia, crachotements, Utopia Travel Modern Shop, stridence des sifflets, Accessoires Pour Femmes, colonne de voitures à l’arrêt, Moawaal Skin Institute, quelques-uns accroupis, Cosmetic Surgery, ombres courtes, Laser Dermatology, un gamin accourt pour proposer ses mouchoirs aux conducteurs, Hotel Tulip, au centre une statue empaquetée, Med. Deur. Dentiste, les arbitres en casquette dans le rond central, Al Chark Assurances, des arbustes empoussiérés, Rado, les femmes vont deux par deux, Air France, sandales et mobile, un flic sous l’arbre, passage d’un camion blindé bleu, voitures flux, un homme cravaté sort d’une voiture, à trois mètres du trottoir un flic, deux, stuc des façades à l’européenne, talkie walkie, fer forgé des candélabres, braillant dans leurs appareils qui crachotent en retour, ribambelles des devantures entourant la place, au pied de la statue bâchée deux autres flics, National Bank of Abu Dahbi, eux-aussi hurlent gesticulent, soudain papotent mollement, échelle portée à l’épaule, deux hommes poussent un taxi en panne, puis sifflent, une vieille femme en haillons balaie éperdument la route, l’un si fort que son instrument lui en tombe, vitrines alléchantes de la pâtisserie Groppi, lassitude de pacha, Utopia Travel, indifférence et caprices tyranniques, supports bleus des poubelles absentes, Amanco, mannequins moustachus, fourgon blindé, losange rouge : les étiquettes des prix, paquet de thé sur épaule, au-dessus de la monumentale horloge Rado : deux femmes au balcon, nouveau convoi de camions policiers, deux sacs plastiques verts, l’officier à oreillette et casquette serre la main d’un gendarme, le vent agite les voiles, foule en traversant frôle les claxons, drapeaux nationaux qui pendouillent, grand disque de l’horloge Rado, bicyclette rouge aux pneus jaunes, un colis informe sur le toit, vitrines-lécheurs, en uniforme à chacun des embranchements, tops culottes téléphones, paniers en équilibre, encore un fourgon, slalom en deux-roues à travers la place, rideaux de fer baissés, hommes à mallette, librairie aux vitres fumées, tintamarre des bouteilles de gaz, tour Eiffel en enseigne, couverte de noir de pied en cap elle avance d’un pas sûr, de préférence ils marchent sur la route, insistance d’un marchand de pacotilles, taxis englués dans le rond-point, Moawad Skin Institute, un barbu en gellebeya s’enfonce dans la pharmacie, radio qui grésille, échelle posée à terre, les gars désoeuvrés palabrent, sifflement concerté, guérite jaune, une sirène s’approche, ils s’interrompent pour lancer leur stridence à qui se sentira visé, signes de mains, la fourrière à nouveau, tuniques colorées, pare-chocs, une touriste traverse au pas de course, sac à dos sur le devant, marques japonaises, tenant sa fille par le bras, cageots d’oranges, Since 1928, l’air acide, on admire les assiettes décorées, coups frappés sur grappe de bouteilles, blouson mercedes, à l’arrière d’un vélo, pantalon maculé de blanc, il chancèle, lunettes de soleil Pilot et téléphone mobile, se fraye jusqu’à l’autre rive, voilée totale, un balayeur municipal fait la pause sur le trottoir, résille sur ses yeux, les barricades noires et blanches empêchent l’accès aux places de parc, pull en laine Burlington, la mine sévère d’un probable flic en civil, pantalon brun en velours côtelé, deux lourds paquets de journaux hissés, les volutes des immeubles art déco, vaguelettes des mosaïques dorées, un homme trapu réparant son chapelet tombé, banderoles qui demandent la libération d’un avocat, les flics renseignent des passants, hijab vert fluo, caisse de soda, veste en velours, trébuchent dans la poussière grasse, rangée de climatiseurs, une auto-école : anatomie d’un moteur, poussière plein la bouche, piles de journaux, les fils parcourant les murs, voitures à l’arrêt, ils croquent et sucent des graines, le code impénétrable des avertisseurs, celui-là assis qui masse son sac, mégots rassemblés sur une grille, flic en blouson orange, trajectoire enchevêtrée, un blanc boutonneux s’arrête devant chez Groppi, ballon rouge à étoiles jaunes sous le bras, L’Enfant de Nice, des agents de sécurité pénètrent dans une voiture blanche, goulot du rond-point, Céramiques : Enfant de Nice, rideau de fer baissé aux trois quarts, un cahier rose, en civil ils font les cent pas, un cœur en or au bout d’une chaîne, toque de feutre, taxi hélé, mosaïques fleuries, il prend le bus en marche, lauriers coupés nets, soulève sa robe blanche, ils arrosent l’asphalte de leurs cris, dévoilant des chaussettes beiges, déchets tourbillonnants, sol lissé au sable, flot ininterrompu, capet en laine bleue, néo-classiques à cinq étages, ils ont repris leur poste au bas du Greek Club, chargements d’alcool, deux autocars blancs se croisent difficilement, Parfums Scarabé, reconnaissables à leur émetteur-récepteur, chariot aux roues voilées, le groupe s’en va en roulant les mécaniques.


Rami, a stranger who never travelled

Rami is a street poet.
You are a travelling stranger.
I am a stranger who never travelled.

Why is it like that ? I will anwser with a poem of mine.

Here's Tongue's Talking Head version of Rami's contribution. we thank him a lot for that!


Cairo Night shots

Late night, Downtown Cairo, street cleaners at work, kids with trolleys and older people collecting the rubish for recycling, cats, dogs, rats, cicadas, fish beeing prepared, water pumps, ventilation systems, canalisations and bass sweating out of an underground cabaret.


Mozaar's comment about the TH

You know, it’s very funny because when I listen to your Talking Head imitations, it gives me the impression to hear the sound that you are receiving from the Arabic language. When I concentrate on the words I can more or less reconstruct the meaning, but when I listen to it as sound, then I see what you are actually hearing!
It makes me think about a piece of music that I brought with me from Zanzibar. (he plays it). They are singing in Swahili, an African language that has a lot of Arabic influences. To me it’s like if it where a song in Arabic. It sounds like Arabic without being it, like your work. What we are hearing is a tune from a CD I bought from a taxi driver, one of most beautiful music I ever heard. Zanzibar was a place where I felt very much in peace. The architecture, the streets, an island, a small piece of Africa which has fallen down in the sea, a Muslim population, speaking an African language, such a mix, a lot of Indians, Persians, British people… After their revolution in the 40’s, some socialist stuff, the mix of the culture was even obligatory…


A djinn palace @ Thalaat Harb

Le gros serveur traverse le bouge étroit en direction de Dents & Langue, les yeux de Langue sont posés sur les trous de cigarettes de la nappe, jugeant, de leur bon droit à figurer aux côtés des fleurets ornant le velours, Dents lui compte les caissons verts du plafond, un ventre, se presse entre ses omoplates, il tourne le cou, cligne, s’empêtre dans son anglais gesticulé, repousse, tendre, ferme, les sollicitations du serveur non moins jovial, son bakchich il se le veut faire donner hors la vue du patron, voyant son mol assaut échouer, il baille, appuyé aux lambris, l’œil terne vagant sur l’éphèbe qui ramène son moule-couilles entre les deux rangées de tables, sourire béat, cils interminables, bras en arceaux au-dessus de sa tête qui se découple des épaules, il frappe, hanches balancées, entre pouce et index, ses castagnettes de cuivre, dans les défauts d’un miroir Langue mate le chanteur, haleine flatteuse, qui s’approche d’une tablée à gauche, saut à glace, bières, raclements de pipe à eau, au fond du bouge le synthétiseur transpire, préset ondulant, une entraîneuse frotte si lasse son cul contre un pilier, elle sort son mobile, pianote, se redirige vers la tablée, brume fréquentielle, l’éphèbe, mal comblé de Dents & Langue, se translate à droite vers un couple d’hommes cuits, le moustachu, cernes bouffis, secoue sa poitrine, baise l’air longuement, doigts claqués, se penche vers la cambrure de l’éphèbe, hume, vibre du chef, sort un billet de la poche de sa chemise, expression luisante, bourgeons de couperose, le ventilo chuinte, un accord, avide, nappe le bouge, chaud tendu, à peine a-t-il cliqueté ses mercis l’éphèbe, courbette, ça sentait venir, qu’une volée de billets, défiante, part de la table que travaille, obstiné, le chanteur, patron ventre entraîneuse, ressorts, se précipitent, l’éphèbe leur emboîte le pas, à pâles éblouis, à Dents & Langue, cigarette partagée, bières bues, se dérobe la face de, maintenant, la prunelle du bouge !, haut-parleurs humides, un lécheur, fourbe refrain adressé par les courtisans la font raccoucher d’une liasse, déglutir, ventilo fait un piqué, la porte s’est ouverte derrière Dents & Langue, entrent un mac sa voilée, vite, dans l’arrière-salle, ressort, la putain, des bières se distribuent, accord plaqué or, la putain, cris de fer, en rouge et diadème, lance sa mine de cellulose parmi, leurs battements moites, chanteur, pores relâchés, a les yeux au plafond, des bouffées jaunes rampent de par-dessus la table de gauche, ustensiles, bras, louanges tendues vers pacha, l’éphèbe roucoule, entre le portrait de l’ancêtre et le miroir, une collection de médailles


All about trance & veil! Spirit of Mozaar @ Makan

Le Zaar dévoilé
Les musiciens de Zaar ne sont que vingt-quatre dans toute l’Egypte. Il ne reste de cette véritable espèce en voie de disparition juste trois femmes chanteuses, trois joueurs de tambura et une vingtaine d’autres musiciens. Si tu poses la question à Mousama la chanteuse : « Mais ta fille, elle apprend ce que tu fais, ? Elle répond : – Non, ma fille, elle est diplômée. – Et ton fils Hassan ? – Non, mon fils est chauffeur de taxi. » Combien de fois on s’est disputé sur leur manière de se vêtir. Moi je les trouve d’une beauté incroyable avec leur taha longue, avec le mendil, là, sur la tête, avec ce look, avec les oreilles dont on voit un petit bout, les galabeyas, leurs manières de se poser devant toi. Mais je les vois arriver avec le foulard, le hijab, que moi j’appelle philippini, importé des Philippines, et avec une espèce de robe, qui n’est ni une robe ni une galabeya, mais un truc modernisé, élégant. Alors je lui pose la question : « Pourquoi arrives-tu avec ce hijab pour l’enlever dès que tu redeviens toi-même et le remettre à la sortie ? – Parce que nous, nous sommes développés. » Je m’attendais à l’entendre répondre que c’est Dieu qui l’a commandé. Ici, dans les journaux, on parle une de la montée de l’islamisme, des rues où l’on trouve de plus en plus de femmes voilées. En réalité, porter le voile, pour Mousama, ce n’est pas obéir à l’Islam, c’est démontrer son accession à un statut social différent. Une analphabète, une paysanne, une femme du Zaar, une gitane montrent ainsi qu’elles se modernisent en changeant de classe. Elles adoptent le voile couvrant toute la tête, cette tenue imposée, distribuée le plus largement et qu’a introduite l’Arabie saoudite, avec toutes les contraditions que cela implique. Pour les couches populaires, la religion est une question dont elles abandonnent aux intellectuels le soin de débattre.

Urbanisation et métissages
Lors des fêtes populaires, les mulids, on observe des mélanges entre musiques coptes et musulmanes. Des musulmans participent aux mulids des saints chrétiens et, inversément, des chrétiens aux mulids musulmans. Pareillement, dans certains passages de la musique soufie, on trouvera sur les mêmes mélodies des paroles qu’inspirent différentes croyances. Le Zaar a gardé cette composante préreligieuse, faisant peu de cas de l’orthodoxie. On s’y laissse posséder par des esprits chrétiens et des esprits musulmans. Un croyant chrétien cherchera un esprit musulman, et un musulman un esprit chrétien.
Au centre d’un rituel Zaar, on trouve le patient : les musiciens, le public d’amis, tous sont là pour lui, pour lui donner du plaisir, et se lâchent. Ce qui dérange les intellectuels. Mais le passage des traditions ancestrales à des pratiques actuelles s’effectue sans pour autant changer la fonction sociale de la musique. Le service de soulagement, de guérison, qu’offrait le Zaar, est aujourd’hui pris en charge par d’autres formes. Quelqu’un comme Ghibril, qui récite le Coran dans la plus ancienne mosquée du Caire, arrive ici avec sa culture saoudienne, marquée par l’enfer, le mal, la culpabilité, la punition et le chagrin. Il prie sur un mode si triste et cassé que le public finit par pleurer hystériquement. La nécessité du soulagement demeure.
L’idée du Makan, c’est de constituer une archive pour les générations à venir, mais c’est aussi un lieu où il y a place pour la fonction sociale de la musique. On te fera t’asseoir ici comme si tu étais chez quelqu’un, on t’offrira une hospitalité que tu ne peux pas simplement consommer sans participer.

Tu vois ce qu’on va te faire !
Qu’est ce qui se passe en Europe ? En Italie c’est le régime de la télé. Et en France ? Le pacifisme du guerrier. Israël ? Y en a marre de discuter, on n’en peut plus. Même s’il existe des associations juives en France qui condamnent la politique israélienne et des personnalités critiques comme Moustaki, même s’il est nécessaire de faire des distinctions, de ne pas condamner tous les citoyens israéliens, il ne faut pas oublier que peu d’entre eux choisissent la déobéissance civile. La question de la justice, de la justice internationale et de sa crédibilité, est en jeu. Or, personne n’a intérêt à l’appliquer, car le pouvoir a besoin de se créer un ennemi afin d’asseoir sa domination, et ainsi de diviser le monde en camps opposés. Or la culture est une, c’est la culture humaine. Et quant au conflit des cultures, je n’y crois pas, c’est une machination : depuis les croisades, l’ouest a construit l’islamisme. Ce « camp »-là, malheureusement, mord à l’hameçon. Quand le dominateur veut imposer sa présence, il commence par montrer sa force en tuant. C’est ce qui se passe avec les films de Ben Laden, avec les films de Guantanamo, avec les films d’Abu Graib. Qui a diffusé ces images ? L’impact sur ceux qui ont vu ces photos est traumatisant et effrayant. L’Amérique affirme par-là qu’elle est la plus forte : « Nous allons te faire ça, toi jeune Irakien, sors pas de chez toi, tu vois ce que qu’on va te faire ? »


Shaabi Talking Head: THE WEDDING

Air épais stase, poussière grasse s’introbruit, s’immobilise, plaque, grasse, croix lumineuses griffent, jaune, les murs se fendent gravassent sous les pneus, taxi bakchiché se renfile vrombe falot dans la frôle aveugle, feux, cartons, entre briques les camions, les corps s’accroupissent crachent relents d’huile, bord du nil, la kochary ventile souffle suinté, les foies d’agneau friture et racines roses, gaz, le grilleur tourne, bouteille pelée, enfoncée, le robinet de cuivre, jeans tendus haillent par en bas sur les orteils noirs, rue de six mètres en large, par degrés, s’enfonce ou c’est la route des berges, martelée, qui saille, ferrailles portes crevées, blocs de nuit, trois deux, basses, des formes appuyées, assises tournent le cou, là, tranchée, basses, des séries de néons, toile isolante les rubanne colorée, exposent la terre battue cinglante entre les premiers corps, plus loin plus dense, les toiles, tissus, traits, sourcils orbites, suspenses de crochets à clous aux parois : câbles, torons, cordes sucées, travers les fenêtres corps faces voûtées s’étagent, penchées, voilées se hèlent, les mains polissent sablent la glu illuminée, y squissent des youyous, rabrouent, les phalanges levées, estiment, reclassent se reprennent conjurent, se résignent, éclaircie d’air stagné, rematent, épellent les faces, corps basses, cela qui devient pont supérieur d’un flottoir, à sa proue une estrade où, basses, se tiennent juchés, serrés s’entregrappent shirts saisis, faces basses, les maîtres de cérémonie leurs platines un batteur, les enceintes flanquent tout au long le corridor en berceau, de la grille des fils en haut du saut-de-loup des paniers s’abaissent, rehissés, poupettent devant rideaux de fers des boutiques descendus, lie de vin bleu ciel violet ça face, corps autour de tables basses, leur guingois rouille, les nappes rouges, numéro brodé or, s’effilent se parent tiennent, cruches de fer-blanc choquent, tiennent, des hommes, assis occupés aux faces chanteurs corps, danseurs, basses en nappe, quoi les dessille, se répandent tchatcheurs, les nerfs, qu’on s’arrache qui méchuintent insufflés de la grappe des corps faces, cycles basses, s’y fondent saillissent membramment, épuisent généalogie des parents des hôtes des présents, y retissent l’énumération des vœux des frères des pères, de la sueur qui les tient face à corps, pied de l’estrade basses, nue de mousse de rasage, pétards à main tirés entre les murs flammes sprayées se lèchent, l’un roule papier journal, poignets bandés, l’autre toronne tuyau de pipe, combattent, pâmés, s’esquivent, tibias jetés, mains rebandées lames gracieuses se font banderilles, sandales talonnent, membres découplés, faces basses, là relais, yeux mi-clos un torse s’ébroue, trois, tous, clappent, tous clappent, saccadent, tambours raffalent ventres, impactent cuisses, les voix filament, pointent, strident, mais s’arrondent, faces corps basses, basses corps faces, se haranguent, brusques, lèvres charnues, se défient, favoris, clairs, se susshurlent, en amande, se provoquent, aisselles ouvertes, réponses, le flottoir clame basses faces, les nerfs font irruption du côté des femmes, à l’interstice la ronde des vieux, leur hauteur, qui hochent tacites, fument manualisent le cordon d’une chicha, ils ont fait distribuer le haschich les sodas, quelques bières, derrière, là sur une table en robe moulante, une mineure sans forme enchante des aïeules, ses brillants, ses bras reptent, son cul tressaille, oeil vide sourire fixé, ça déclame détonne, basses corps, à l’autre bout du couloir, happés ventral dans le pli des contretemps, ceux qui ne s’osent pas au-delà de la charnière des vieillards glotzent le direct pleins d’humeur, serpent, autre nerf, la caméra a droit à tout, couleurs rehaussées, la grappe fracturée des corps, prise au réticule d’usages, s’y peut voir une, suspendue, basses, corps basses, mais faces, corps basses, basses corps faces, flottoir irradié maintenant, basses corps basses appuyées au quart-de-tour, texteurs membrammés, flûtes faces ondulent, basses corps faces, corps faces, stridences, garçon juché sur les épaules d’un camarade, celui-ci sa tête s’est faite ventre, ses doigts claquent, celui-là ses yeux épaules avant-bras ongles caressent hument les nappes basses le poison flûte, la fièvre des texteurs s’empire, sont peaux, qui appellent, sont sifflés, qui aiguillent, l’allure des basses se tend, qui s’éclipsent, apparaissent, pour s’adresser à l’un qui lui attrape le lobe, fait son souhait, retchatché filé, versé au pot à la pâte corps basses, et s’enfuir que d’autres rondes les ravissent, ventres grappe corps faces, flottoir basses, le marié est borgne, centre-grappe, sa femme invisible.


Abdul's comment on Talking Heads

Considering your blog, I think it’s a good idea to give people the possibility to make their own mix of the different sounds of Cairo. Hearing your speech imitations I only recognize some words. In the contrary to Ash's opinion, I think that you were right to use the file which speaks about this Arabic man who loves Swedish blond girls because that’s true that a lot of men here think about sexual things and about making love with blond girls.
There is something beautifull in this idea that I can’t express. I think you mean to transfer the human beeing’s feelings. Like if someone would like to talk to the others, to communicate. During this process you move to the position of the other and the other takes your position, it’s a kind of exchange of positions… the great idea : How to accept the other ? How to adapt to the other ? this is a good starting point. The sentences that you are repeating are almost all incorrect, but what matters is the feeling, you can feel some words that I say and that touches you, so this is perfect. My only objection is why did you choose Teeth and Tongue ? To me those words mean the language itself.


An independent Journalist about Kareem, Egyptian blogosphere and freedom of speech

Abdul, 29, working as a journalist for Al Fajr (The Dawn), an independent Arabic weekly newspaper running around 55’000 in the whole country:

Kareem Amer is a young man who has questions and he is right to ask these questions. In his blog he attacked the people’s faith. What happened to him would never have happened if he hadn’t lost the sympathy of the public opinion and of his relatives. This was a mistake. One can have some opinions but one should recognize that we are in a very religious society. As a European you have been surprised by the reactions in the Islamic world against the publishing of the Danish caricatures, but for me it was obvious because I know the mentality here, in spite of the fact that I believe in the same conception of freedom of expression like you. I just know that this can be dangerous here. In the case of Kareem, he has been punished because of the action itself of publishing his opinion. The mentality of the people here needs to develop. The people who denounced him to the police where from the Al Hazhar University. Personally I’m against this trial and against his punishment. My opinion is that it’s the El Hazhar University that should be punished because they denounced Kareem’s ideas to the police, rather than discussing them with him. During the trial Kareem said that he believes in God and that he’s not atheist, but that he has a critical opinion about religion, so we should not punish him for that, but rather discuss these ideas. To be an atheist is a very difficult issue here in Egypt.

Most of the people from the activist bloggers scene are friends of mine. They do a lot of good things. There are two examples where they played an important role: the recent scandal about a case of torture in a police station and cases of sexual harassment that happened at the end of last Ramadan in Cairo. They helped to widen the space of freedom. The government arrested Kareem as an example for the rest of the bloggers. This trial will affect them a lot because the government is using Kareem as a way to stain the bloggers reputation in the eyes of the public opinion, accusing them of spreading atheist ideas, which is against the society. So in the future the bloggers will have to face this prejudice even if they write in favour of more human rights.

Freedom of speech
Generally I’m free to write anything because there’s no censorship for the licensed newspapers before the publication. Afterwards other newspaper can attack both your company and you as a person, calling you a gay, a junkie or an adulterer, they may bring you down, insult your parents and even sue you. If you criticize someone, in particular a businessman owning a newspaper, he would let it attack you in turn. That’s the same with the security department. It disposes of the possibility to respond violently to you through the press. It’s also the case with some parties, for instance the Muslim Brotherhood. They possess their own newspapers. In front of them you will be like naked. When you’re boxing it’s not allowed to hit under the belt, here you have no belt. Three years ago it happened to me. I wrote something about Muslim Brotherhood. I wasn’t syndicated. Without discussing the issues I was speaking about, they called me an immoral person in their articles and insulted me on the street, saying that I belong to the security department. For a journalist, to be treated as a spy is the worse injury regarding your reputation. So it’s very dangerous to express oneself about religion because you can easily not only loose the sympathy of the public opinion, but also the respect other intellectuals owe you, especially if you question the faith. You can challenge the ideas or attack personally a sheikh or any important person but not the faith, the prophet or the holy things. Neither other prophets like Jesus elsewhere. I would never do it in a direct way because it touches other people’s freedom. Only a long experience would teach you how to deal with the public opinion and to measure the very tiny difference between faith and ideas. Laws, traditions and habits cross themselves, their limits are not clear, but they exist. It’s like a vast sea you can always sink into and then at every moment be accused to insult religion. It’s a highly fuzzy area. Furthermore critical views on main appointees or military topics, all what regards national security issues lead you into jail. But anyway the Egyptian laws are so tight in all matters that even if you’re speaking about the public water distribution services, you could appear in court.

Egyptian blogosphere + Kareem + TH

The Cairo Talking Heads Project has been inspired by the Egyptian blogosphere from its very beginning. Many of the activist bloggers are reporting about the corrupt political system and sometimes get arrested and beaten during demonstrations.
Karim Amar is an Egyptian blogger who has been arrested and sentenced to four years of jail because of his critical writings and position.
This is a scandalous case of repression here in Egypt, among 1000.
Everybody should sign the petition.
To be aware of the complexity of the affair and learn more about the Egyptian activists' blogosphere, check the following links:

Accordingly to the Talking Head principle here is our contribution.This a sample of the post that Kareem published on the 23th October 2005 and that led him into jail. (see the english translation of karim's whole post HERE)


Ash about CTH & freedom of speech

I’m quite sure that Teeth & Tongue won’t have any problem by repeating activists’ statements. But to build the conditions through which one could spread out insults against religion, religious people or against the government may be dangerous. If they want to be asking for trouble with you, they will do. Generally the amount of reasons to sue you is so wide and at the same time so intransparent that you never know. Moreover the Egyptian society is not used to surf on the web but for searching for pornography, chats or contacts with girls. The few web users interested in political issues are the activists. Regarding the blogosphere the government wanted to make a case of Kareem, because in its perspective an increasing number of activists were going too far on the web. Well-educated, bourgeois are leading this growing but still little scene that could be able with the help of the capital to change the political order. The point with Kareem is that he has been assuming his words at the court. It would have been very easy to avoid the condemnation, because one hardly establish the responsibility of a web-based statement. If Teeth & Tongue now ask me if with their audioblog they add a web-based tool in favour of freedom of speech, I would say no. It’s a kind of joke. They make abstraction out of serious things, perhaps in order to show the beauty of the language, but this trick remains an ironical one. Of course it’s a way to say things indirectly and people love it. It reminds me of a show we have here with this guy who can perfectly imitate Sadat’s voice while saying bad things about Israel. People laugh about it but however it still transmits a clear political message. One may consider it as a hint to the work of the bloggers, if not as a contribution. But now if they want me to read a Kareem’s text in order to repeat it afterwards, I’ll accept. No problem. I hope I would then become a refugee in their country.

Ash, The woman of the dream, 1994

I saw myself in the bed of the lighting, sleeping to the wounds
My finger is diving in the seas of passion
Opening my hymns, singing the last thing I wrote about her
Going into the crazy world of her eyes
Climbing up to the dream
To her star which stayed in the night of her childhood desert
But when the monster sweeps the suns from the café of my blood
She leaves my soul without a shelter
And in my hand the reminds of the last stars
She travelled


Ash's comment about our imitation of his poem & the Talking Heads in general

(see previous post with our performance of his poem HERE)

Teeth caught the rhythm but not really the letters or the phonemes. He only touched the words through rhythm. He plays the real game, because the whole Arabic poetry has been written in this rhythm that is a meter, a timeline that is not related to the syntax. Although the modern poets use western rhythms now, only a few like me still write in the old one. So, one can say that he caught the rhythm in my voice, considering it as music, as a row of musical units or pieces. Altogether my poetry becomes abstract, so that I only understand 50 percents of the word-centred meaning.
Tongue concentrated more on the letters. They are more precise. His pronunciation is better. He caught the units of the words, the contours of which become here sharper, as if he knew them. Tongue really imitated my voice. I understand more than 70 percents, except regarding some letters that are particularly difficult to pronounce and that he should work on, if he wanted to learn the language. The combinations of letters reach very deeply into the language, they are also hard to be seized. But sometimes Tongue did touch them and in that case his voice relied on the very background of this text that is the Koran and its particular combinations and formulas. They are rare, beautiful and I was keen on imitating it, especially in that sentence which says, “when the monster sweeps the suns from the café of my blood” [tahshufushumuseh].

First to my surprise I found it clever, but now I see how sensitive this idea can be, because the emotion I’ve put into this poetry has moved into the voice of someone who ignores my mother tongue. It’s amazing how the spoken language keeps the feeling, even transferred through their blind performance. Although they can’t speak Arabic some word stay understandable and moreover the emotion. I don’t know how they managed to transmit my expression, not only my words but also my voice with both my particular way to pronounce phonemes and my rhythm. Of course something remains lost, which is a certain singular belonging to a culture, as a native speaker. So it’s neither the same profound sadness nor the same shallow I spoke out, but what I can hear here is my own expression that has been abstracted.


The Baron of Heliopolis

Teeth & Tongue & Ash meet the Baron at Heliopolis

The Baron: The Baron came to Egypt and said he has a brilliant idea, that he wants to construct his own city. He chose this place here, it was all desert. He was employed in a company of architects and made a lot of money, he was very smart. He committed suicide in 1942 because he was sick, he had cancer.
At that time, there were a lot of european architects building in Cairo, mixing european style with islam style. His palace is indianstyle, it’s beautiful, it’s huge, it’s like haunted. Imagine it : a palace from Cambodgia in the desert in the the middle-east. But now you can’t enter it, there’s no one living there. The wife of Mubarak, Susanne Mubarak, she’s crazy about that house and its huge garden, she wants to renovate it. If you talk about the president or his family, it’s like… gods… nobody can touch it. I can’t do anything you know. Some opinions they say that Mubarak is good because he manipulates these things for many years, he was smart you know, but the system is corrupt. He talk about to leave his position for his son, the businessmen they want that, they want the things to be stable, to make business you need to have a stable position you know, far from fondamentalism, from islam, terrorist or other, so you have terrorism from this side and corruption from the other side and normal people who pay the shit, who are struglging to be better, they have no chance.
This area was very quiet before, dark and cold. It’s the problem of Cairo, the emigration from the villages. They come with their tradition of islam and their mosques. I will show you, in any empty place they put mosque, and you know chicken and all that stuff from the village. It’s becoming a little bit dirty, that’s the problem of Cairo.
You see that mosque ? before it was a garden, like an Italian piazza, very nice.
They talk about that for a long time here in egypt, how to be oriental, not European. Some egyptian artists, they used to put folklore in their art, but you can’t present folklore like art. comtemporary art is not folklore. I’ve made egyptian painting and drawing like that, but a very friend of mine, he is artist too, he said don’t do that again.

Ash: To live in Europe is not that easy, because you’re in 3 circles : arab, muslim, poor, lazy… these stereotypes and people look at you as a foreigner and maybe a youg teenager from neo-nazisme he will look at you because you have black eyes or black hair he will shoot you for no reason.

The Baron: I know that you fight the movies with movies, because you see all the news and tv…so your respond is the movie. Painting is like poetry, something more metaphysic, like the Baron’s palace, it belongs to another world you know, but vide ois from this world, the same shit, the same world, there is nothing in that world, that’s my idea i don’t know…it’s boring. Reality is not in that world, reality is metaphysics.

Ash : here there are no CCTV. Here their are really deep in hiding themselves. We don’t know how they look like in fact.
This is the national democratic party, they have this type of advertising. It says : a new future, a new tomorow, we are together… which is crazy, we would like to get rid of 25 years ruling the country and he thinks that he will be permanent here… and he is 78 years old. It’s a sad joke you know. On the portraits that you see on the streets Mubarak looks very young, but now he is a very old man. Now they try to hide his image from the people, because the people around him they know that the people are fed up with him so they try bring the image of his son Gamal to prepare for transition. Anyway Gamal doesn’t look very different from his father. Both I hate them in fact.

Tongue to Ash about the Baron’s paintings : Do you recognize any arabic influences?

Ash : Yes, it’s the irony that he has and also the dramatic, the sadness and the violence. He expresses what he feels and lives here with these fearness and crisis.

Tongue : Oppression?

Ash: silence, yeah.

Tongue : Any arabic patterns?

Ash : I think not.

The Baron : I thought about showing rolled paintings in a corner.

Tongue : What will you offer as a statement at this exhibition around Occidentalism?

The Baron : My theme is the grotesque.

Tongue : The carnaval ?

The Baron : There is a constellation linking Brasil, i.e. South America and Egypt, i.e. the Arab World, it’s Portugal.
The faces in this red paintings are screaming, some want to say something, others are singing, they come out of the atmosphere, you can feel the sound. There you can see a horse and a sorcerer, that’s the meeting between East and West.

Ash about cairotalkingheads: You’ll be rich after you’ll have been censored! You’ll have people advertising on your site and you’ll make money out of it.

The Baron : What kind of French is that? It’s irony.

Teeth : You beeing imitated by us : It’s not your language, because it becomes stranged, and it’s not ours, because these are not our articulations. It’s a meeting on a sounding terra incognita.

The Baron : A terra what?


bab zuweila, par teeth & tongue

bab zuweila
shishas alignées
cantine de rue
deux tours en pierre à créneaux
gril à gaz
on pèle des oignons à pleines mains
le grilleur fait des castagnettes avec sa pince à pain
sacs d’espadrilles
PC et sub appuyés à un sac d’oignons
un homme en cravate trône dans l’échoppe d’un cordonnier
pelures jonchant le sol
flammèches agitées
le sol lui-même mou de boue poussière miettes drèches
passage d’un âne
carafes de métal blanc
une clope au bec, préparant le kochari
muraille d’une mosquée à droite
tas de radis
rangée de lampes
deux ampoules suspendues
hampes élégantes arquées
des bobines de fil blanc
cageot claire-voie de joncs
course poursuite de klaxons rythmés
écriture qui commence par la fin
machine à coudre et tchaikhane
traces de pneus encore humides
poste télé noir-blanc
pas pressés dans le dos
femmes en maillot de bain
sifflement insistant
romantiques gestes de général
chargement d’ordures à dos d’âne
les cartons de protection recouvrant le cuir d’une Honda-Davidson
graffiti chariots ânes
haut-parleurs capuchonnés de noir
chevaux babioles polycolore
PC baignant dans l’huile
courroie tours à quoi ? huile
couteau pointé
néons suspendus
tonneau bleu de 100 litres
deux bonbonnes-à-gaz bleues
longue lame oignons pelés jetés
ogives mamelouques
stand de fer-blanc
concentration de carton-à-chaussures
théières boîtes à tout
un garçon chevauchant la roue de secours à l’arrière d’une jeep
sifflets de bouches sucements
complicité méfiante
nombreuses tentatives
explications incertaines
semelles lacets interrupteurs
laine de fer qu’on étire
sol jonché de copeaux
font les DJs
intérieur vert
savates souliers piles
ampoule poiriforme
porte où fut pendu le mamelouk
audience captivée par les rayons
cartons récipients caisses
un dirigeant télévisé
pour la prière fini la musique !
basses infernales
grilles turbans catelles
couinements d’une roue à six branches
bouteilles de gaz
forgés à pointes
bananes en chapelets
le pleureur acteur éplucheur
fraises qui croulent
flammèches lame
le shabi tonne
klaxon jeep pains
réserve de cornets
muhammad wölbung des tours
gyrophare d’urgence
table fer sacs mercedes
traces de khôl ayant coulé
mobiles siège bois cuir sur estrade

établi de cordonnier bobine

fil blanc

leur pèle un oignon deux


Ash's contribution

After having severely critized the quality of our arabic sound sources, here's Ash's contribution. he said it's a poem. we have no idea what it means, but did our best to reproduce it. I still can feel the circonvolutions of his words in my mouth.

tongue's version

teeth's version


Rue Mohamed el Alfy

il y a place CHLORÉE à peine pour corps d'un mètre soixante par dix centimètres claxons bananes mégaphones, square plus loin CHLORÉE, square qu'une certaine langue veut paisible inactifs, les gens rare jusqu'ici, vitrine coin de rue, personne ne s'y tient que langue, méditant reclos tenant planté son mât, captant voix choses leurs entrelacs, CHLORÉE pas un vendeur pas un passant qui se montre voyant, culottes tangas qui à rose en nylon sur le devant qui à deux trous et, parmi plus loin ces hommes CHLORÉE je t'ai aimée qui portant une cruche d'alu dans le dos se baissent jusqu'aux tasses à thé tendues aimée, mêmes squares où les jeunes couples se touchent quant tout prétexte les bouscule, détour distance ostensibles et ostensible l'atmosphère veut y passer outre CHLORÉE plus tard, club d'écrivains têtus à tête blanche boivent des jus d'orange feuilletant distraitement, est-ce vraiment le nouvel ouvrage s'étonnant, qu'on interviewe un des leurs sur imitations d’appel à guerre sainte sur slogans machistes tirés, d'une méthode de langue, leurs femmes CHLORÉE de quarante ans qui sont allées à l'école des soeurs mais est-ce vraiment sont seules, capables d'expliquer dans notre langue en évitant notre regard le sens de la main représentée dans leurs peintures, qui est, mais est-ce vraiment, de se protéger en secret de l'amour éprouvé pour le passant et, qu'on retrouve à l'arrière des voitures, cette main, quel monde la fable ces peintures, saturées superposées lignes chacune appartenant à de multiples motifs CHLORÉE, foncière multivalence je t'ai, au café parlottant avec calligraphe pixellisant avec éditeur germanophone qui fut cuistot à kreuzberg avec sculpteur de minneapolis avec oudeur, et anglais amateur de colombo puis quelque, chien je t'ai EAU-DE-ROSE dans la fumée, pas moins dans mes omelettes aux poivrons demain, grillades île d'oiseaux, CHLORÉE menace laquelle, le pire ça chante.


You won't avoid anecdotes

A l’embouchure d'un fast food, il trempe ses beignets dans cinq litres d'huile. Non seulement son ventre, mais jusqu'aux stores métalliques de la boutique sont pleins d'un gras mêlé de poussière. L'huile crapote et, à chaque fois qu'un beignet vient s'y dorer, s’enfle et flapotte, tandis qu'une basse de soufflerie, quelque part, pose une nappe continue, irisée de toux de moteur.
Tant d’yeux sont là, mi-clos. Savent-ils tout ? Cette agitation perpétuelle, où il faut pourtant trouver à loger son calme, ses calculs, son propre territoire.
Un poste de radio plutôt toy corannise lentement, mais est-ce même ça, très nase envoûtant. La ventilation, après les salutations de mise, reprend de la force. Un verset s'ennuie, est-ce ça, l'huile crisse, des mains se tendent, chiffonnent les billets. On se frôle, on fabrique en négociant à voix forte, à grands renforts de gestes, un espace qu’il n’y a pas.

7 spaces


ash’s sayings – d’où lui vient son nom

deux allemands qui regardent un couple d’égyptiens noirs comme fourmis baisant dans une boîte de verre

il n’y a pas d’homme blanc marchant pour rien sous le soleil d’afrique

ils s’agitent dans la poussière et se plaignent de ne pas voir

promesse c’est nuage : passage à l’acte c’est averse

que la vie vous vienne, c’est un pigeon qui pond son seul œuf sur un piquet

regardez les cendres, vous connaîtrez de quel feu elles sont filles


Explaining your silence: first comment by Ash, who we met in Cairo

I will tell you my opinion. The arabic is not clear. The one who is reading this arabic didn’t know arabic. He read latin letters but the text is arabic, so he writed in latin and he read it. That means the word itself is not clear and his prononciation of the letters is not good and he didn’t know what is the difference between this word and the other word, he didn’t stop with the ending of the word. Sometimes I understand 3-4 words, one word, and the rest I can’t understand it and sometimes I think that he is speaking in french or english. I understand 30 % of the words. He try to telling poetry, this I understand but the rest of the poetry is not clear.
The idea is to produce abstract group voices but sometimes I recognise that a voice is coming front and the rest is away. It remind me of Beethoven. Beethoven he is very complicated composer because he has this idea… you know how to walk, if you would like to walk you have to stand once and then a step further and you have to stand and the other…this back and forward work remind me of the human being brain, you can’t think many things in one time. He knows that so you have focus in one idea and the rest is backround. Beethoven he has four melodies in one time, one time he has one melody in front and the rest is in background but it all work together and then it moves to the second bar and third bar and fourth bar and than again and again. It’s allways Beethoven work in this way. This work is remind me of that because sometimes I have a voice coming and the other is a bit lower and then it’s back and then another one is coming, another one is coming, but group of voices you can’t recognise the mistakes and you didn’t recognise one text but I recognise that this text is really have the common idea of any tourist about Egypt and about Arab people that they like the blong girls and they speak about the fighting and violence and old history… first I’m asking myself when I hear something like that, something like, sorry to say it, like kind of racism like we put in a shelf that Arabs they like blond girls, violence and they are voices, very hard voices for fighting and violence. This three things is like kind of stereotypes. You going to prove to the europeans that they have right to judge and to put these people in that shelf that they have sex hunger and violence. What you would like to do with that ? It’s confusing you know. Especially when you speak about Saladin. Saladin is symbol for the Europeans that he is really violence and killed a lot of christian because of the crusades war. When you have this symbol it’s not a name it’s have history. This is what I thought that you’d like to bring me with this text.


Quotation of teeth after this impressive moment of active contemplation:

"Orientalist : a guy who travelled a lot.
Trapped in the dictionary of accepted ideas.
Flaubert couldn’t write in Egypt, he just wanted to be an eye.
Guilt had already been the romantic reaction to the other.
That’s what I thought when it was my turn to be an idiotic membrane.
I hadn't enough time to improve my skills. Nevertheless I knew WHAT THESE WORDS MEANT – do you?"


New vocal contribution by teeth

here's a talking head contribution by teeth who found the source file randomly on the web. please leave a comment...or send us an audio file with our new RECORDER on the right.


Talking head in arabic - 1st try !

Here's my first try to appropriate a fragment of arabic language through audition & repetition. I found that randomly on the web and have only a vague idea of what it could mean (you can view the source HERE). i did my best and rehearsed a lot to achieve this personal version of it. i had to slow down the original file so that i can repeat it.
rather than discussing the meaning of it, i'd like to know if people can understand anything, recognise elements of their language and contribute by sending us their own soundfiles so that we can repeat it.

the same file, back to original speed. ... any comment ?


Whose dream?

A Dream : knowing a foreign language without understanding it : to perceive the Difference in it, without this Difference being ever caught up and flattened by the superficial sociality of language, by communication or habit… to learn the systematic of unseizability ; to resolve our reality under the influence of another organisation, another syntax ; to discover unheard positions of the subject in its expression… in other words to descend in the untranslatable and feel its vibration… until the whole Occident inside us starts to waver and together with it the right of the father tongue, this language that we inherited from our fathers and which makes us again the fathers and owners of a culture, which History metamorphoses into nature.

This was Roland Barthes' fantasma of giving the Others a place, as he was encountering Japan.

Another Roland, tells you an epic song of the 11th century, explodes his brain while blowing in his horn as he encountered the Others he would only fear.

Now you have teeth and tongue. What the hell can they do? They would let the Others blow through them, as a first step. A new epos ?