- Artist Ayman Ramadan
- Title Iftar
- Date 2008
- Medium Colour video projection with sound
- Duration 8 minutes
When I first came across a picture of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, I noticed how much it resembles the Islamic breaking of the fast – known as Iftar in Arabic – during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Each afternoon during Ramadan, workers throughout the cities and towns abandon their activities and gather for Iftar. They sit at public tables in the streets where free food is provided for all those who cannot afford the meal, including transient workers who have come to the city from the villages. It is a humble affair that brings together the city’s poorest as they ease their hunger in celebration of their faith.
I then sought out the story behind Leonardo’s painting and concluded that the similarities between the Last Supper and the tradition of Iftar are not merely visual. Having spent most of my life in Egypt, where religious strife is a daily concern, the painting struck me as a powerful tool to underline the most important aspects of the Abrahamic religious tradition: the notions of equality and social justice.
For this video, I invited twelve workers from a backstreet in downtown Cairo to reenact an Iftar. The piece slowly unfolds as the meal is consumed quietly in a naturalistic manner, without dramatic movement or editing.