The 23rd edition of the Aswan International Sculpture Symposium was inaugurated at a press conference at the Cairo Creativity Center over the weekend.
Hany Faisal, general commissaire (curator) of this edition, and Fathy Abdel-Wahab, head of both the Cultural Development Fund and the symposium’s Supreme Committee, provided some details on the 23rd edition, which began with the artists travelling to Aswan on 22 January and will conclude on 9 March.
“This event is an important one that has a long history. Now we have several other sculpture symposiums in Egypt, and even if the Aswan Symposium is a unique one, we now have a challenge [and healthy competition] in keeping it up,” Abdelwahab said.
He added that this year they hope to make the Open Museum in Aswan more dynamic and active and encourage visitors and tourism.
While most of the symposium’s final works are placed in the Open Museum, and others are placed in city squares and state organization buildings around the country, Abdelwahab said there is a high chance that two works from this edition will be chosen to be placed in the New Capital.
“This year we had the highest number of submissions – around 150 – to select from, and we’re happy with the stone blocks we managed to bring (from the quarry) for the artists, and look forward to seeing them turn into special works this year,” Faisal said.
This edition will see the participation of four foreign artists; Lyudmyla Mysko and Vasyl Tatarskyy from Ukraine, Ivane Tsiskadze from Georgia and Siti Kanta Pattnaik from India.
The four Egyptian sculptors are Ahmed Magdy, Alshaimaa Darwish and Abdel Mageed Ismail who were all in the 22nd edition's workshop, in addition to Eman Barakat from the 21st edition.
This year’s eight workshop artists are Aya Soliman, Rawaa Mohamed, Taha Abdel Karim, Abdelrahman Alaa, Philip Adly, Mohamed Elbakry, Maisoun Mostafa and Hadeer Maged.
One of the journalists in the audience asked why there are fewer foreign artists this year – two of them from the same country – limiting the diversity he had hoped to see at the symposium as it develops from year to year.
Faisal explained that the selection process is more focused on the quality and vision of the projects presented, regardless of the the artists’ country, and that this is also what dictates the number of participants.