Dispatch 8: This will be the final dispatch of Notes from Alex. Ellie Ga’s solo project at Grand Arts will open on Friday, September 6th, 2013. Stay tuned to Grand Arts’ UPCOMING page for more details.

                                                              

The hieroglyph for sail is found in words connoting the wind and the concept of breath. Materials as a refrain, an uneven refrain:

pink granite

alabaster

lead

sandstone

string

marble

bronze

plaster

light

granite closeup

PORTRAIT OF PINK GRANITE

Today, bats zig zag through the upper chambers of Qait Bey citadel and on the weekdays, young couples come here to hold hands, knowing they won’t run into their families. Inside, the one object on display is a model of the citadel itself but before the British bombardment in 1882 which almost completely destroyed the citadel. The citadel was built on the location of the Pharos lighthouse which had been standing for about 1500 years before it was reduced to rubble by a series of earthquakes in the 14th century. The stones which didn’t end up on the seabed were used to build the citadel, but the problem is that once the citadel in turn was destroyed and then reconstructed, those early accounts are vanquished into the realm of legend. The only stones that we can say with certainty are from the ancient lighthouse are those found in the small portion of the citadel that survived intact after the bombardment–the doorway of pink granite, made in part with the base of a statue turned upside down.

Shadows in the place of eyes.

shadows eyes

According to BRGM/RP-56218-FR-Final Report 3: Atlas of the Stones of the Alexandria Lighthouse, among the 66 stone samples collected from the monuments and artefacts of the lighthouse, fifty are granitoids. Forty-two are pinkish granites. The granite samples are coarse to very coarse (3 to 5 cm). The observable grains are coarse alkali fledspars (pinking to reddish color), plagioclases (milk-white), quartz (transluscent) and a few black spangles of biotite.

breakwater

The massive pink granite plinths that formed the door frome of Pharos lighthouse are still underwater–with one exception. Lying next to the coast guard is a long wide granite monolith, broken into two pieces . It is 6.5 meters long and 2 meters wide and 1.5 meters thick. Since it is so heavy, and there is nowhere else to put it, it ended up here on the breakwater. We sail by it often as we make our routine stop at the coast guard before each dive. The stop usual plays out the same way: my dive guide jumps onto the breakwater and takes a seat in one of the plastic chairs (as if to say he is willing to wait).  I wave to the two soldiers who can’t be more than 20 years old and they wave back enthusiastically and sometimes one of them jumps onto our boat to look around (for underwater cameras or stowaways: like the time he found the Egyptian guy who had slipped the guide a little money to come on board to drink beer and make out with his Russian girlfriend.) And with the machine gun dangling like jewellery around the young soldier’s neck, he wishes me good luck for the dive.