Beyond the loofa: Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival reveals highlights

Maria K., Monday 25 Mar 2019

The Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) will kick off its eighth edition on 29 March and will run till 21 April, bringing 40 events and several workshops by Egyptian and international artists

(Photos: courtesy of D-CAF)

The much anticipated contemporary art event Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) will take place in Cairo this year from 29 March to 21 April.

It will be the 8th edition, organised by Orient Productions in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and with the support of Al-Ismailia For Real Estate Investment company.

Talking to the journalists during the press-conference at Steigenberger Hotel Tahrir on 24 March, Ahmed El-Attar, the founder and artistic director of D-CAF, announced the full programme of the festival.

The poster of D-CAF's 8th edition features an Egyptian loofa -- bath and body traditional sponge/scrubber made from natural materials -- on a plain blue background.

“If people are asking questions [about the loofa], it means they are already participating in the art process,” said Ahmed El-Attar.

(Photo: courtesy of D-CAF)

On the whole, D-CAF 2019 will present more than 40 events and several workshops by Egyptian and international artists, including 10 performance arts events, seven music concerts, four urban visual performances, two new media programmes, two film programmes and seven workshops.

Ahmed El-Attar highlighted the important trends and goals for 2019, such as developing the Egyptian art scene, hosting more performances by Arabic artists, empowering women, including the disabled, and making art training accessible to all segments of Egyptian society.

For the first time, an inclusive dance performance will be 100 percent Egyptian, choreographed by Shaymaa Shoukry and presenting local disabled artists trained by professionals. Previously, shows featuring disabled performers had only been staged by foreign choreographers. The performance will take place on Sherefen Street on 12 April.

To celebrate female talent, a unique Egyptian-American live duo will be presented, featuring Cherine Abdo and T-sisters, an Indie-folk Americana group.

“Collaboration between Egyptian and foreign artists is invigorating,” El-Attar said.

The programme will also see an all-female metal band, Massive Scar Era (also known as Mascara), originally from Egypt and now based in Vancouver, Canada. According to El-Attar, D-CAF seeks to encourage Egyptian artists currently living abroad to perform back home.

(Photo: courtesy of D-CAF)

Bringing together technical innovation and cultural heritage, for the first time in Egypt and only in D-CAF, a video mapping piece will be projected on a historical building in downtown Cairo by the Egyptian artist Islam Shabana in collaboration with Josh Garner (UK).

Educational activities with successful artists are also planned, such as a special rescreening of the multi-award-winning film Yomeddine and a workshop by Abu Bakr Shawky and Dina Emam, the film’s director and producer. The number of participants for most workshops is limited to 10-20 to ensure the quality of education.

This does not mean, however, that D-CAF brings art only to a privileged few. The festival will involve interns from a project in collaboration with Tawasol association, which brought art education to the young inhabitants of Ezbet Khairallah, providing one-year training in light design, set design, video projection and sound, and stage/production management.

Last year, 1,322 free tickets were distributed among underprivileged social groups, including Syrian refugees and street children. This year the goal is 2,000 tickets, and transportation to the events will be provided as well.

(Photo: courtesy of D-CAF)

Check the D-CAF's full programme here

Ahram Online is media partner of this year's D-CAF festival  

For more arts and culture news and updates, follow Ahram Online Arts and Culture on Twitter at @AhramOnlineArts and on Facebook at Ahram Online: Arts & Culture

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