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Egypt's arts and culture: The best of May 2014

Ahram Online highlights the artistic achievements, important cultural events and new initiatives that took place in Egypt in May 2014

Ahram Online, Sunday 1 Jun 2014
the best of May 2014
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Exhibition of cartoons by French artist Golo

Between 15 and 31 May, French cartoonist artist Golo (Guy Nadaud), celebrated 40 years of his work covering Egypt with an exhibition held at the Hotel Viennoise.

Organised by the French Institute in Cairo, the exhibition included Golo's almost 200 works going back to the 1970s, documenting Golo's effort to capture the Egyptian story of humour, contradictions, problematic politics and kindness in his colourful sketches. Seven rooms were devoted to the exhibition, each one displaying work from a particular era.

Born in Bayonne, France in 1948, Golo has worked as an illustrator for several French and Egyptian periodicals since the early 1970s. When he came to Egypt for the first time in 1973, he fell in love with Cairo and kept revisiting the city and producing works on it until he decided to permanently relocate there in 1993.

He has produced two books on the city, the first concerned with the city in the 1970s and 1980s and the second focusing on Cairo in the new millennium.

Check the photo gallery from the exhibition here

Golo
(Photo: Bassam Al Zoghby)

 

Retrospective of films by Syrian director Mohamed Malas

Between 8 and 11 May, a rich retrospective of films by Syrian director Mohamed Malas took place in Cairo. The retrospective was the first large-scale event organised by Zawya only two months after its official launch.

Four films - Dreams of the City, The Night, Passion and Ladder to Damascus – were screened at Zawya's permanent venue, the newly-renovated Odeon Cinema in downtown Cairo.

Born in 1945, Mohammad Malas is a prominent Syrian filmmaker whose cinematic wealth includes documentary and feature films, many of which have garnered him local and international acclaim.

Read interview with Mohamed Malas here.

Mohamed Malas
Syrian director Mohamed Malas during his interview with Ahram Online

 

The Wonder Box performances

Storytelling, music and visuals dubbed 'The Wonder Box' in performances revive old folklore traditions in a contemporary setting.

Held between 25 April and 11 May and organised by the Mahatat for Contemporary Arts, and curated by filmmaker Aida Elkashef, the Wonderbox brought together nine multidisciplinary artists to re-create the folkloric storytelling device in a contemporary way.

Check video about Wonderbox here

The Wonder Box
The Wonder Box (Photo: Still from Ahram Online's video)

 

Selection of Spring Festival's events

The 2014 Spring Festival, run between 24 April and 26 May between Cairo and Beirut. This interdisciplinary feast encompassed music, theatre, dance, poetry, cinema and visual arts. The event also hosted parts of the Norwegian Red Zone festival -- which seeks to push the boundaries of free expression -- taking place outside of Norway for the first time this year.

Within the visual arts programme presented by the Red Zone festival was an exhibition by Berlin-based Lebanese artist Said Baalbaki who uses conceptual art and objects to blur the line between fiction and reality in a historical and religious context through his Fictional Museum project. Read more about the exhibition here

On the other hand, between Friday 2 May and Sunday 4 May in Beirut's Sunflower theatre and Cairo's Falaki theatre, poets and rappers Ali Talibab (Egypt), El-Rass (Lebanon), El-Far3i (Palestine/Jordan), along with Dieder Awadi (Senegal) and musician Tibass Kazematik (DR Congo) presented a myriad of arts from poetry to rap to music, against the backdrop of Tunsian visual artist, Ghazi Frini’s images. Dubbed 'Spoken World,' the performance gave a platform for each of the poets to recite their new and previously performed individual work, with music and visuals by the instrumental artists bringing together separate yet intertwined sketches.

Fictional Museum
Fictional Museum, Al-Buraq (Photo: Rowan El Shimi)

 

I am Now Dead, an award-winning performance

Nine years after it featured at the French Institute’s Jeunes Créateurs (Young Creators) theatre festival, the black comedy I am Now Dead came back on stage at Falaki Theatre between 14 and 16 May.

There are several factors that prompted director and writer Hani Afifi to bring the production back to the stage – the grimness that fills the air in Egypt now, the current state of politics and society, which resemble the years leading up to the 2011 revolution, plus youth who are too uninspired to truly participate in the political process and the media playing its own game through propaganda and the economic crisis.

Based on several sessions of brainstorming and improvisation, along with collective work from the entire cast, I am Now Dead does not have a traditional dramaturgical structure but instead consists of a series of scenes that have been uniquely compiled and presented. The play is a personal take by Afifi and co-writer Bassem Sharaf on the state of Egyptian youth today, who find themselves caught in a myriad of social, political and ideological struggles.

Read more about the performance here

I Am Now Dead
I am now dead (Photo: Ahmed Rouby, Courtesy of Hani Afifi)

 

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