In the midst of a growing contemporary art scene, the Medrar Organisation for Contemporary Art hosted 'Set of Experiences,' on 27 June, an event based on a rich collaboration by emerging musicians and filmmakers.
A musician from Alexandria who plays under a group called Object Obscure, Samer Nabil, inaugurated the night with his guitar accompanied by Ragy Adel on drums. Nabil's work is a musical storytelling of general emotional experiences. In the background, videos by Alexandrian filmmakers Islam Kamal, Emad Maher, Mamoon Azmy Abdallah Sharkas and Ikon were projected.
Established in 2005, Medrar is a non-profit organisation and a cultural and philanthropic space for Egypt-based artists.
"Medrar has three main branches: Medrar TV, Cairo Video Festival and Open Lab Egypt. It also hosts exhibitions, events and independent musical performances," Medrar Programme Director Diaa Hamed told Ahram Online.
Medrar TV projects aim to document events in the contemporary arts scene in Cairo as well as to reach out to artists in Arab countries. The Cairo Video festival is a public platform for video artists to discuss their new works and tools.
On Open Lab their website states it "facilitates local artists' creations through educational workshops and cooperative projects to explore new tools and produce artworks."
"Music may say one thing while the images fill in the spaces to create the context for the audience" Nabil commented to Ahram Online.
Nabil started his music career by composing Indie music and pop and moved on to instrumental - his main interest.
"Instrumental music delivers meaning without using actual words. I was inspired by Dirty 3 band; they are a basic band, since they only use drums, guitar and violin. They are so expressive, thought, that I hear words when I'm listening to them," Nabil commented.
According to Nabil, the setup at Medrar allowed the audience to be in direct contact with music and the small space created an intimate atmosphere.
"The first time I performed 'Set of Experiences' was in Alexandria," Nabil continued. "I was familiar with the audience and they were familiar with my music. This is my second performance, yet in Cairo it is more challenging because the audience may not be familiar with my music. Nevertheless, I felt comfortable during the event."
Nabil added that his main aim in any music track he produces is to engage people in the melodies and beats that would allow each to create her/his own experience.
Object Obscure performs in Medrar (Photo: Engy Adham)
During the event, filmmaker and director Islam Kamal explained the differences between fiction films, documentary films and video art. According to Kamal, "audiences are used to the structure of both fiction and documentary films - the only difference lies in the fact that in fiction, the audience knows that the characters don’t resemble real people in life," so documentaries take a realistic approach through re-acting historical events, for instance.
On the other hand, "The only common feature between films and video art is the movement of the images, such as animation movies" Kamal added.
"Video art is characterised by a prior agreement on a certain story between the director where the audience does not exist, as it is an abstract art form,” Kamal went on to explain to Ahram Online.
Kamal praised Medrar's role: "The audience at Medrar is ready to receive a different type of art, which is very promising, but this type of art work needs to be presented to wider audience, even if they find difficulty understanding it."
By quoting Picasso "Everything you can imagine is real," Kamal emphasised the importance of discussion and learning.
In his work, Kamal prefers to communicate his messages through spontaneous humanitarian signals, focusing on emotions. Kamal added that he feels most proud when people care to watch his work and when they are interested and curious to learn from it.
Video art is a new art genre to most audiences. Events including video art give a platform for the audience to ask questions, engage in discussions and broaden their knowledge about this art form.
Finally, Medrar's philosophy and culture appreciates team work and cooperation. 'Set of Experiences' was one of the examples of a rich collaborative art work.