From Cairo to Beirut: D-CAF's Arab Art Focus kicks off

Ahram Online , Thursday 14 Apr 2016

The four-day programme brings 20 performances across dance, music, theatre and visual art

(Photos: courtesy of D-CAF)

On 14 April and for the duration of four consecutive days, Cairene audiences will be treated to this year’s Arab Art Focus (AAF), an off-shoot of the annual Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) which began on 31 March. 

AAF is a biennial event, “in which delegates, producers and programmers from around the world are invited to experience a dense program of performances and works in various disciplines, all created or co-created by Arab artists,” reads a press release by D-CAF.

This year, the programme will host more than 80 delegates, producers and programmers as well as 40 artists who will present 20 different performances, ranging from performing arts and visual art exhibitions to films and music concerts. 

“The overall objective of the focus is to support the development of a sustainable professional contemporary arts sector in the region, one that will allow young artists to show their creative work in front of programmers from all around the world,” adds the press release.

14 April will feature two major performances,  the first titled Dance Night 1 and will feature the shows Out of There by Mithkal Alzghair (Syria), Mahalli by Danya Hammoud (Lebanon) and BelBaladi by Ezzat Ismail (Egypt). The performance will be staged at Falaki Theatre.

Also on 14 April, Shahrazad nightclub will feature a performance by electronic music collective Arabstazy (Tunisia), as part of this year's Music program which is curated by Mahmoud Refat (Egypt).

This year's program will also comprise a night of “the best of old and new Shaabi music” which will feature music by Studio Stella (Egypt), Ahmed El Sweasy (Egypt), Islam Chipsy (Egypt) and Abdelbaset Hammouda (Egypt).

As for the Dance program which is curated by Nedjma Hadj Benchekabi (Algeria/Belgium), it will include two dance nights. 

The first night will exhibit the performances Out of There by Mithkal Alzghair (Syria), Mahalli by Danya Hammoud (Lebanon) and BelBaladi by Ezzat Ismail (Egypt).

Sarab by Fouad Nafili (Morocco), Mayohkomsh by Shaymaa Shoukry (Egypt), and Cell by Younes Khoukhou (Morocco) will be staged on the second night.

Just as vibrant is the Urban Visions program which brings two performances by El Kousha Puppets troupe (Egypt), in addition to the following performances: Gaze by Stopgap Dance Company (UK/Egypt), Body to Body by Mohamed El Deep (Egypt/The Netherlands), and Madeeh by Michael Klien (Austria/Egypt).

The theatre component of the programme is curated by Ahmed El Attar and will encompass Gardens Speak by Tania El Khoury (Lebanon), Zig Zig by Laila Soliman (Egypt), Small Rooms by Hassan El Geretly (Egypt/Syria) and Where Can I Find Someone Like You, Ali? by Lina Abyad (Lebanon/Palestine).

Between 15 and 17 April, a three-day Symposium titled Artistic Production and Distribution: Challenges and Opportunities will take place. The symposium will include a Visual Arts component titled Artist, Object, Institution and curated by Lara Khaldi (Palestine), and a Performing Arts component, titled Geoaesthetics of Arab Stagesand curated by Jumana Al Yasiri (Syria).

The Visual Arts exhibition: Sounds As If, curated by Aleya Hamza (Egypt) commenced on 29 March and is still exhibited across three different venues: the Old French Consulate, Kodak Passageway, and the Bassiouny Shop.

The exhibition 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 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 Arab Arts Focus will also transcend its Egypt borders and fly to Beirut, where different art works by Syrian artists will be showcased on 18 April. 

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