In the series Dust, Russian-Swedish photographer Xenia Nikolskaya presents us with a view of Egypt refreshingly devoid of pyramids, focusing instead on crumbling and abandoned architectural spaces which carry traces of past lavishness and grandeur; a surprisingly unexpected sight in downtown Cairo. 

The mansions and stately homes, which could almost be mistaken for grand Hausmannian apartments in Paris, are the result of a building boom between 1860 and 1940 under colonial rule. But a disastrous rent-control policy by the new regime in the 1960s forced their owners to abandon them, leaving them to fall into disuse and disrepair. 

From Cairo to Esna to Port Said, Nikolskaya pays tribute to these decaying national treasures in a series of poetic, beautifully-lit architectural portraits. Started in 2006 and completed in 2011, it has been published into a book and has been exhibited worldwide, notably at St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum in 2015, and most recently at the Biennale des Photographes du Monde Arabe Contemporain by the Maison Européenne de La Photographie and L’Institut de Monde Arabe in Paris.

See more of her work here, and follow her on Instagram.

Xenia Nikolskaya Dust

Kasr el Doubara, Cairo

Xenia Nikolskaya Dust

Italian Palace, Esna , Egypt

Xenia Nikolskaya Dust

Amin Hagagy Palace, Esna

Xenia Nikolskaya Dust

Villa Casdagli, Garden City, Cairo, Egypt

Xenia Nikolskaya Dust

Villa Casdagli, Garden City, Cairo, Egypt

Xenia Nikolskaya Dust

Radio Cinema, Cairo Egypt

Xenia Nikolskaya Dust

El Dorado Theater, Port Said , Egypt

Xenia Nikolskaya Dust

Tuson Pasha Villa, Alexandria

All Images © Xenia Nikolskaya