Egyptians celebrate the revolution with street art

Doaa Hamza and Mai Heikal, Sunday 3 Apr 2011

While many art institutions are capitalizing on the revolution, it seems that genuine art is out in the streets

Alexandria

One of the most compelling changes that has affected the art scene since the advent of the 25 January uprising is its evident spontaneity. The sudden outburst of long-suppressed creativity has made art available to everyone on corners, on walls and even in public squares.

On Saturday art festivities took place across the country in an initiative entitled ‘Al Fan Midan’ (Art is a Square), organised by the Coalition of Independent Culture.

In Cairo, ‘Al Fan Midan’  was held in Abdin Square, which  played host to many artists, from the Hasaballah troupe, to circus performers, musicians, poets and story-tellers. A photography exhibition was displayed, along with cartoons by Nabil El Sonbaty.

The event, scheduled to start at midday, started two hours later but people did not really start to fill the square until around 4 pm. Passersby and residents of the area also showed their curiosity and interest, and it seems that having artistic endeavours out in the open has proved very successful, manifesting the revolutionary atmosphere.  

There were two stages in Abdin Square, perhaps one of the setbacks of the event, since it became distracting and each performance overshadowed the other.

The large stage hosted several contemporary musicians, including ‘Fok El Sotooh’ (On the Roof) and ‘Transistor’, with satirical songs about the current political and social status in Egypt.

Ramy Essam, well-known in Tahrir Square as the ‘musician of the revolution’, also took the stage and received the most applause.  His performance takes the form of chants with ‘The people want to cleanse the regime’ and ‘Where is the Egyptian army? - In Nasr City’ amongst his most popular.

The smaller stage hosted theatre troupes as well as poetry readings. A duet by a boy and girl accompanied by the ‘tabla’ (drum) entitled ‘Abdo and Aziza’, was also about the current political situation.

The performance by the Utopia choir, which consists of amateurs and professionals, had great energy. The puppet theatre put on ‘An Mawdoa El Fool Wel Lahma’ (On beans and meat) by El Sheikh Imam.

Aly El Haggar also performed and started with his well-known but long-censored song ‘Hona El Kahera’ (Here is Cairo).

In Alexandria, the event took place in two side streets, El Bakht and Souccar off Fouad street. Both streets are known for the famous Chez Gaby restaurant.

The festival included a rich variety of assorted types of arts and the programme was divided into workshops, an art bazaar and performances in various art forms.
 
Hamada, a local coffee shop, was transformed into a bazaar, offering hand-made crafts, like jewellery, ornamental wooden crafts and leather-covered notebooks.

There was also a showcase of numerous calligraphy designs for bags and t-shirts. A silhouette art and cartoon section allowed people to have their portraits painted, while the "Egypt's Lens" photography exhibition by the “Adasa” (Lens) Photography club took up a considerable area of the bazaar, and showed many photographs of the Egyptian revolution and celebrations in Alexandria.

Workshops were also held on origami, wood-painting and candle-making.

The stage was set in front of the Chez Gaby restaurant between the old buildings of Souccar and El Bakht streets, and at midday bands from diverse musical backgrounds performed.

The bands included ‘Karakeeb’ (Mess) who performed their own songs of boogie and rap, in addition to some well-known songs by the renowned 1960s Egyptian trio ‘Solasy adwaa elmasrah’.

 ‘Ebn El Balad’ (Son of the Country) performed songs by Sayed Darwish as well as folkloric songs, ‘Tele-Biotic’ played their special electronic experimental music, while "Storm" sang famous Egyptian songs.

The ‘Barah’ group gave a story-telling performance inspired by the streets and districts of Alexandria,  ‘El Sayala’ and the ‘Fishermen's life’ and Boshra Agban recited some of his poems about his love of Egypt.
 
"The importance of this event lies in transferring all these types of arts to the street, for the public to share in and enjoy, hence the name of the festival ‘Al Fan Midan’," said the Origami artist and organiser of the event, Osama Helmy.

The festival aims to support the Egyptian Revolution, recall the spirit of Tahrir Square and match the spirit of change and creativity that fills the country.

The event was also held in Assyut, Suez, El Menia and Port Said

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