Everything you need to know about week one of 2016 D-CAF festival

Ahram Online , Sunday 27 Mar 2016

Ahram Online takes an in-depth look at the first week of this year’s Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF), which runs between 31 March and 22 April


Starting on Thursday and running through the next three weeks, Cairenes will be treated to a vibrant selection of local and international music, dance, theatre, film, and visual arts at the fifth annual Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF).

This year's D-CAF will officially begin on 31 March with a concert by Egyptian singer Dina El-Wedidi, performing alongside Moroccan rock singer Khansa Batma at Zamalek's Al-Horreya Garden.

Visual art prelude

The visual arts programme, beginning on 29 March, will feature Sounds As If art exhibit, curated by Aleya Hamza, D-CAF’S visual arts programme curator and the director of Gypsum gallery.

Sounds As If explores the potential use of sound and the conventions of music sampling as an artistic device, bringing a wide range of works from text, image, object, and sound. The exhibition will be displayed in three different venues: the Old French Consulate, Kodak Passageway, and the Bassiouny Shop.

This year’s programme participants include Egyptian visual artist Doaa Aly, Kuwait-born artist and filmmaker of Palestinian origin Basma Al-Sharif, Beirut-based artist Joe Namy, and Egyptian artists Ahmed Badry, Magdi Mostafa, and Ahmed Sabry.

This year’s performing arts programme will host Numax Fagor Plus from Spain, an interactive performance juxtaposing video and theatre and which invites audience members “to be a part of the reenactment of a tale of resistance and self-determination,” according to the Facebook event description.

Directed by Roger Bernat, the 60-minute long performance is based on the 1980 film Numax Presenta directed by Joaquim Jordà, and will be performed in Arabic on 1 and 2 April at AUC’s Falaki Theatre.

Bernat will also be teaching a participatory theatre workshop titled “Doing Things with People” on 3 and 4 April at Studio Emad El-Din Foundation. Interested participants must attend the aforementioned Numax Fagor Plus performance. The workshop is free but registration is required.

Literature programme

Earlier in March, D-CAF organisers announced the introduction of a new literature programme at this year's festival, comprising “roundtable discussions, a master-class, as well as live-readings by popular local authors, who will be invited to downtown cafes to entertain audiences with selections of their work, as well as their own favourite books.”

This new programme comes in the form of “Literature at Downtown," a series of public readings, organised by well-know Egyptian novelist Ahmed El-Aidi.

The selected literary works chosen by El-Aidi for performers to read, including excerpts from his own novel Being Abbas El-Abd, and selections from three other literary works.

El-Aidi picked a forthcoming short story collection by Egyptian novelist Ahmed Naji, who is currently serving a two-year sentence for publishing a “sexually flagrant article” in the state-owned cultural newspaper Akhbar Al-Adab last year.

El-Aidi also chose excerpts from a novel by Mohamed Al-Fakharany, and from Haunted, a novel by American writer Chuck Palahniuk. The selections will be read by different actors including Sayyed Ragab and Doaa Toeima. 

According to the Facebook event description, the aforementioned texts were “selected for their ability to bridge the gap between a written text and its performative potential, for their relevance and pertinence to the current moment in literature, and for the personal impact they have had on the author.”

The public readings are scheduled for 2 April at the Old French Consulate Rooftop, 9 April in an apartment on Gawad Hosny Street, and 16 April at Eish We Malh restaurant. 

Film and Performance Programme

This year’s film programme will put the spotlight on marginalised people. Curated by Remi Bonhomme, the programme manager for Cannes International Critics’ Week, six European films by first-time directors were selected under the theme of tackling the struggles of those on the sidelines of society.

D-CAF’s first week will feature screenings of two such films, Party Girl, a 2014 award winning French drama co-directed by Samuel Theis, Marie Amachoukeli and Claire Burger; and Fatima, an award-winning French drama from 2015 directed by Philippe Faucon. Both films will be screened on 3 and 5 April at art house cinema Zawya.

A 30-minute French sound performance titled The Shadow of the Waves (A l'Ombre des Ondes) and delivered in Arabic, English and French will be presented in different downtown venues between 5 and 8 April.

The performance comprises “audio-speaking siestas” during which “reclining on a deckchair, you will listen to a series of real dream stories, collected by the duo, which have been reworked, edited and marked with a musical imprint to accompany the listeners on their dreamlike journey,” reads the Facebook description.

An interactive German-Egyptian performance titled “Home Visit Cairo” will be staged on 4 April, and again between 5 and 14 April inside different apartments in downtown Cairo.

Written and directed by Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi, Daniel Wetzel, and Rimini Protokoll, Home Visit Cairo is a performance where “you are invited into the home of a stranger to play a bizarre game where you must follow the commands generated by a printer-like machine,” reads the Facebook description.

According to D-CAF’s official website, the performance seeks to ask questions like “What is a nation actually? Is it a geographic border, a hub for cultural or religious identity, a coalition of convictions? It is said over and over that a nation is an ever-changing idea – too theoretical, as the individual can tell from their own experience.”

On 6 April, a 30-minute dance performance titled Delle Ultime Visioni Cutanee will be staged at the Old French Consulate.

Choreographed by Nicola Galli, the performance “is based on the presentation of the principle of reproduction in a greenhouse, in an installation environment,” reads the performance description on D-CAF’s official website.

“The action is divided into four chapters, which correspond to the representation of four landscapes: botanic, orographic, ethological, scenic.”

Discussions on art and architecture

On 3 April, Balassi Institute will host a talk titled “Conceptions of Space: Curating Art, Architecture and the City” by Portuguese curator Pedro Gadanho, curator at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and founding director of MAAT (the new Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology) in Lisbon.

Omar Nagati, co-founder of Cairo Lab for Urban Studies, Training, and Environmental Research (CLUSTER) will moderate the discussion exploring "how space is seen today as both a social construct and a shared cultural production,” reads the Facebook event description.


Exhibition: Sounds As If
Tuesday 29 March, the exhibition will run until 25 April
Open on weekdays from 5-9pm and on weekends from 3-9pm
Old French Consulate, 5 El-Fadl Street, Behind El-Abd, off Talaat Harb Street, Downtown Cairo
Kodak Passageway, 20 Adly Street, Downtown Cairo
Bassiouny Shop, 13 Mahmoud Bassiouny Street, Downtown Cairo

Concert: Egyptian singer Dina El-Wedidi and Moroccan rock singer Khansa Batma
Thursday 31 March, 8pm
Al-Horreya Garden, Gezira Street, Zamalek, Cairo

Interactive performance: Numax Fagor Plus
Friday 1 April and Saturday 2 April, 8pm
AUC Falaki Theatre, Downtown Cairo

Public readings: Literature @ Downtown
Saturday 2 April, 6pm
The Old French Consulate’s rooftop, 5 El-Fadl Street, Behind El-Abd, off Talaat Harb Street, Downtown Cairo
Saturday 9 April, 6pm
Apartment on Gawad Hosny Street, Downtown Cairo
Saturday 16 April, 6pm
Eish we Malh restaurant, 20 Adly Street, Downtown Cairo

Theatre workshop “Doing Things with People”
Sunday 3 April and Monday 4 April, 6-9pm
Studio Emad El-Din Foundation, 18 Emad El-Din Street, Downtown Cairo

Film screening: Party Girl
Sunday 3 April, 6.30pm and Tuesday 5 April 9.30pm
Zawya,Odeon Cinema, 4 Abdel-Hamid Said Street, off Talaat Harb Street, Downtown Cairo

Film screening: Fatima
Sunday 3 April, 9:30pm and Tuesday 5 April 6:30 pm
Zawya, Odeon Cinema, 4 Abdel-Hamid Said Street, off Talaat Harb Street, Downtown Cairo

Lecture: “Conceptions of Space: Curating Art, Architecture and the City”
Sunday 3 April, 7pm
Balassi Institut,13 Gawad Hosni Street, 2nd floor, Abdeen, Cairo

Interactive performance: “Home Visit Cairo” a Germany/Egypt
4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 April, two performances per day (5pm and 9pm)
Various apartments in Downtown Cairo (TBA)

Sound performance: In the Shadow of Waves
Tuesday 5 April, 2:30pm, 4pm, 5:30pm
Rooftop in Abdel Khalek Tharwat Street, Downtown Cairo
Wednesday 6 April, 2:30pm, 4pm, 5:30pm
Cinema Radio’s courtyard , 24 Talaat Harb Street, Downtown Cairo
Thursday 7 April, 2:30pm, 4pm, 5:30pm
Old French Consulate's rooftop,  5 El-Fadl Street, Behind El-Abd, off Talaat Harb Street, Downtown Cairo
Friday 8 April, 2:30pm, 4pm, 5:30pm
GrEEK Campus’ rooftop, 28 Falaki Street, Bab El-Louk, Downtown Cairo

Dance performance: Delle Ultime Visioni Cutanee
Wednesday 6 April,
The Old French Consulate, 5 El-Fadl Street, Behind El-Abd, off Talaat Harb Street, Downtown Cairo

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