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It’s Time to Move: An Excerpt

by Peter Wieben, Dominic Nahr

It’s Time to Move is a collaboration of Peter Wieben and Dominic Nahr.

Set during the political uprising in Cairo, Egypt in 2011, the book combines pencil and gouache illustrations by Wieben with Nahr’s documentary photography. The book is partly true and partly fictional. It is about the fears, hopes, and observations of a small group of witnesses to the events in Egypt.

Dominic came out to where I was sitting, and he sat down. He wasn’t speaking. I looked up at him, he was just staring straight at his hands. Some of the marker was fresh. It covered the old lines, which were faded now. It layered and layered. “I was out on the bridge,” he said. “There’s a bridge with lions on it. You know it?”

He had cuts on his legs. His inner thigh on his right leg was raw. His pants were ripped at the crotch. His shirt was stretched out, and he had something white trailing from the side of his mouth.

“I was out there in this group of guys. On some bridge. They were throwing rocks. Then the police started shooting tear gas. So much, man. I tried to run. But you know, I couldn’t breathe. I just started vomiting. I kept falling down. I kept vomiting and every time I tried to take a breath, no air would come. I heard bullets skipping off the ground next to me. Like that. They were cracking the road. My glasses fell off but even with them, I wouldn’t have been able to see. But then I heard this wind, and this rumbling noise with the wind, and everyone started shouting.”

“I tried to look up, but then all of a sudden, I’m being carried. I’m being carried along by this man, I’m in his jacket. He put my face into his chest,” he said. “He carried me off the road. He left me in some grass. By the time I could see again, he was gone.”

“It’s bigger than me,” he said.

“I gotta get closer, I guess.” he said.

“You know what Will told me?” I said to Hana. We were standing looking out at the city. “He had to cross that bridge, you know? You were cooking when he told me. He told me that Death pulled him out onto the bridge. He didn’t want to go. He said it was like going out onto the stage during a ballet. He said he was the only one that didn’t know the dance. Death was there, though. You know him.”

Gritting his teeth and wearing sunglasses, he pulled Will right out there. And Will was just running for his life, he got out past the police, and this long white line came out of his head, made of cloud, way up in the sky, and then the tear gas smashed down on the road right in front of him. He turned around because he heard shooting, and you know what he saw? He saw a crowd of children running after him. Really. Just running out onto the bridge while the police were shooting.

“He said it was really like the people were all part of a dance. Jumping up, you know? And spinning when they threw the rocks. And falling down on the ground. And it was weird because of the tear gas, it made everything white, and he couldn’t really breathe but somehow that’s how it was, this dance that was happening on the bridge against the police, and they were just like a big machine, not thinking about anything. And when he finally got to the other side, the children caught up and gathered all around him, and they pulled on his pants leg and kept calling him ‘Mister.’ You know? They had no idea.”

“I think it’s kind of like that,” I said. “The dancing part, I mean.”


Peter Wieben, It’s Time to Move, with photography by Dominic Nahr (Cairo: 2013).

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