Everything you need to know about Week 2 of the 2016 D-CAF festival

Ahram Online , Sunday 3 Apr 2016

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


The fifth annual Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) kicked off 31 March with a concert by Egyptian singer Dina El-Wedidi, performing alongside Moroccan rock singer Khansa Batma at Zamalek's Al-Horreya Garden.

D-CAF’s second week brings Cairenes yet another vibrant selection of local and international music, dance, theatre, film and visual arts.

Lost: Music by Egyptian composer Bahaa El-Ansary

On Thursday, 7 April, Lost, a collection of four musical compositions written by Egyptian composer Bahaa El-Ansary, will be performed at AUC Falaki Theatre.

The four pieces “are linked together in a larger musical form, which is performed throughout the whole concert,” and comprises acting segments.

The music will be performed by Neam Tarek (harp), Cesar Mora (guitar), Mohamed-Aly Farag (violin) and Hassan Hosney (cello) who will also perform in the acting segments. Moreover, participating in the concert’s closing piece will be an ensemble of 30 cellists.

El-Ansary's musical repertoire “is rooted in Arabic tradition, but influenced by a list of master composers, such as György Ligeti, Iannis Xenakis and John Cage, as well as many spectral music and avantgarde music techniques,” reads the event description on Facebook.

Literature and film 

The second public reading night, one of three public readings organised by well-known Egyptian novelist Ahmed El-Aidi and titled Literature @Downtown, is scheduled for 9 April in an apartment on Gawad Hosny Street, and will feature excerpts from Fasel Lel Dahsha novel by Mohamed El-Fakharany, as well as excerpts El-Aidi's own novel Being Abbas El-Abd.

According to the Facebook event description, the literary 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.”

This year’s film programme puts 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 second week will feature screenings of two such films: Eastern Plays (Bulgaria), a 2009 award-winning drama directed by Kamen Kalev, and Disorder (France), a 2015 drama/thriller directed by Alice Winocour. Both films will be screened on 10 and 12 April at art house cinema Zawya.

Eastern Plays is centred on ”two alienated brothers, Itso, an artist woodcarver who is struggling with his methadone addiction, and Georgi, a high school student who is dragged into a neo-Nazi gang,” reads the film synopsis on the event’s Facebook page.

“Through them, we see post-Cold War Bulgaria searching for its freedom and struggling with its confusion.”

At the heart of Disorder is the story of Vincent, a former soldier who battles post-traumatic stress disorder and “is hired to protect the wife of a wealthy businessman while he’s out of town at their luxurious villa, Maryland, in the French Riviera,” reads the film synopsis on Facebook. 

Performing Arts programme

This week, performances of "In the Shadow of the Waves" (A l'Ombre des Ondes), and "Home Visit Cairo," continue across different Downtown venues.

In the Shadow of the Waves is a 30-minute sound performance titled and delivered in Arabic, English and French and comprising “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.

For “Home Visit Cairo,” it is an interactive German-Egyptian performance written and directed by Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi, Daniel Wetzel, and Rimini Protokoll, and staged inside different apartments in Downtown Cairo.

“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.”

Sounds As If

Curated by Aleya Hamza, D-CAF’s visual arts programme curator and the director of Gypsum Gallery, this year’s exhibition Sounds As If commenced 29 March and is displayed across three different locations: the Old French Consulate, the 
Kodak Passageway, and 
Bassiouny Shop.

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.

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.


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

Sound performance: In the Shadow of the Waves
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

Concert: Bahaa El-Ansari (Egypt)
Thursday, 7 April, 8.30pm
AUC Falaki Theatre, Downtown Cairo

Interactive performance: “Home Visit Cairo” (Germany/Egypt)
7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 April, two performances per day (5pm and 9pm)

Various apartments in Downtown Cairo (TBA)

Public reading: Literature @Downtown
Saturday, 9 April, 6pm
Apartment on Gawad Hosny Street, Downtown Cairo

Film screening: Eastern Plays
Sunday, 10 April, 6.30pm
Tuesday, 12 April, 9.30pm
Zawya, Odeon Cinema, 4 Abdel-Hamid Said Street, off Talaat Harb Street, Downtown Cairo

Film screening: Disorder
Sunday, 10 April, 9.30pm
Tuesday, 12 April, 6.30pm
Zawya, Odeon Cinema, 4 Abdel-Hamid Said Street, off Talaat Harb Street, Downtown Cairo

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