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

Ahram Online, Tuesday 1 Jul 2014

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

Best of June

Huda Lutfi awarded the grand prize at the 26th Alexandria Biennale for Mediterranean Countries

Egyptian artist Huda Lutfi has won the grand prize at the 26th Alexandria Biennale for Mediterranean Countries, which opened on 10 June at the Museum of Fine Arts in Alexandria and will continue until 7 July.

"Lutfi's work is probably the most striking and equally attached to the biennale's theme [The Will of Change]. Her video is resonant -- not just of the period leading up to the uprising across the country and the region, but also of what has transpired afterwards," Olu Ougibe, head of the jury commented to Ahram Online when pointing to the military boots depicted in Hoda Lutfi's work.

Check photo gallery from the biennale here

Huda Lutfi
Still from Biyadaat (2012) by Huda Lutfi


Sofar reaches Egypt in Maadi's living room

On Tuesday 17 June, the capital hosted its very first ‘Songs from a Room’ (Sofar), a global music movement which started in London in 2009 and has since spread to more than 80 cities around the world.

The location of the music event is announced to users who've signed up to the Sofar website only a day before it takes place, and the line-up is only announced at the event as each act is about to play. The idea is to bring music to audiences in intimate settings where audiences sit quietly and connect with the artists.

Read more about Sofar Cairo here and check the photo gallery here

Hany Mustafa and his band perform in Sofar Cairo (Photo: Rowan El Shimi)

Whims of Freedom theatre performance

Directed by Laila Soliman, 'Whims of Freedom,' a two-woman, one-hour long documentary-musical-theatre performance which premiered at Cairo’s Makan on 20 June and continued until Sunday, 22 June, pieced together stories from Egypt’s 1919 Revolution — the nationwide uprising against the British occupation — while drawing parallels to a contemporary context of struggle and revolution.

"The project is about reading the past through the present, and reading the present through the past," director Laila Soliman told Ahram Online at her downtown office a few days before the performance. And indeed, one was confronted with the painfulness of a history that cannot be controlled even as one lives it. But also evident is the magical ability of theatre to capture fleeting moments of history that may — and probably will — be forgotten or left out of the dominant narrative.

Read more about Whims of Freedom here

Whims of Freedom
"Whims of Freedom" rehearsals. (Photo: courtesy of the director)

Opening of Heytan graffiti space

After successfully overcoming numerous obstacles, new space Heytan opened its doors to the public with the launch of its first exhibition on 23 June. The exhibition, which continued until 30 June, focused on street vendors dubbed Kefahteya, meaning The Strugglers.

The Heytan initiative is a brainchild of Egyptian blogger Mahmoud Salem, widely known by the blogosphere name Sandmonkey, and self-taught Egyptian street artist Mohamed El-Mosheer. Heytan has been years in the making.

The space was given to the artist and activist by Ismailia for Real Estate Development, who have been steadily buying property in Downtown Cairo and renovating the buildings, aiming to bring back its “glory days.” The company has been supporting the independent art scene with spaces for years, including the Townhouse Gallery and the Contemporary Image Collective, among others.

Read more about Heytan here

Kefahteya exhibition in Heytan (Photo: Rowan El Shimi)


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