Ahmed El Attar on highlights, venues, & concepts behind D-CAF 2017

Ahmed El Attar

Launched in March 2012, the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) has established itself as the largest independent multi-disciplinary festival of its kind in Egypt. It brings together artists from Egypt, the Arab region, and around the world in a comprehensive three-week program of theater, film, music, dance, visual arts exhibitions, and workshops. With the 2017 edition of the festival fast approaching, D-CAF’s Artistic Director, Ahmed El Attar, discusses what the festival has to offer audiences this year.

 

What are some of this year’s program highlights?

Disabled Theater is a show we’re very much looking forward to. We’ve been trying to bring it to the festival for three years. This year, we finally succeeded. It’s one of our biggest shows, with 18 people travelling, and all of them are disabled actors and dancers with Down syndrome. It is the oldest company in Switzerland, probably in Europe, engaging with disabilities. The show has toured the world, and is directed by a huge choreographer in Jérôme Bel.

Cloture de l’amour by Pascal Rambert is another highlight. It’s the Arab world premiere of this famous piece, and the first time it will be performed in Arabic with local actors. Its text was translated into over 20 languages, and created by the director, who is also the playwright.

There’s also Andy Field, a young artist from the UK who creates very different, more intimate work. The show is really great and he’ll be working with local kids from the ages of 12 to 14, so we’re very much looking forward to that.

For the music program, we have Black Theama highlighting a  “Made in Egypt” night that should set the festival ablaze. We also have sheikh Yassin El Tohamy, who is an icon of a very Egyptian style of singing and Sufi chanting. The guy is a living legend. We’re very lucky to have him on board.

This is the third year you’ll be doing the art and disability program; can you tell us about that?

It’s getting bigger every year. With the art and disability program, we’re creating three new pieces this year, not just one or two. This year, we have three productions and a workshop with Theater Hora from Switzerland for five days. It will be targeted at people who want to work with disabilities as well as people who have disabilities themselves, and will talk about how to integrate that into the creative process.

Although downtown is central to D-CAF, you’re also making an effort to expand beyond that this year. Can you tell us about the venues?

Yes. For the first time, we’re going to work in the Qaytbay area in the cemeteries near Salah Salem. It’s around the mosque of Qaytbay. We’re working with Archinos, an association that has an aim of renovating the monuments in the area. We’re doing some of our outdoor events there, which is another way of working with different communities and extending the boundaries of downtown while also coming out of its bubble.

We will use the GrEEK campus and the AUC Falaki Theater for dance and theater performances, while the rooftop of the JC building will host Andy Field’s performance. The visual arts program will be in the apartment on Huda Shaarawi Street and the Kodak Passageway on Adly Street, which we renovated along with CLUSTER as part of D-CAF’s 2014 edition.

You also have a very exciting project coming up as an extension of D-CAF, the Arab Arts Focus in Edinburgh…

We’re very excited about this, yes. This will be the third iteration of the Arab Focus, which we started doing in 2014 with the aim of giving young Egyptian and Arab artists the chance to have their work seen by international programmers. We would invite delegates from festivals all over the world to Cairo for a few days to watch a condensed program of all these shows, and if they like the shows, they can offer the artists a chance to perform them at their festivals worldwide.

The idea now is to basically have one year of the Arab Arts Focus in the Arab world, and one year outside. This year, we’re taking it to the biggest theater festival in the world: the Edinburgh Fringe. There were 3,358 shows there in 2016. We’re bringing seven shows, which were selected out of 122 applicants. The idea is to have a proper presence, and also to choose shows that can work in the festival there because it’s very demanding since you perform every day for three weeks. There is an interest from the audience and programmers. There is also a need for different discourse and different exposure for Arab artists, whether inside or out. That’s exactly what we aim to provide.

In this 2017 edition, looking back at the past six years, how do you think the festival has evolved?

The fact that the festival survived till now is a miracle in some sense, but is also the result of a lot of hard work and building on experiences. Now, we need to look at how to expand beyond the boundaries of downtown, to go to other cities and other parts. It changes from one year to another, depending on the kind of partners we find and activities we have. Last year, we did something very small in Beirut, and we had something in Assiut and Alexandria before as well.

We have a lot more local collaborations. We’re continuing to working with Zaye Zayak and the Hassan Foundation on our disability program. We’re working with Archinos for the first time, and we’re working with the backstreet festival in Alexandria, taking some of their shows and bringing some of our shows there. At this point, we’re trying to move beyond just our nucleus, to make D-CAF a festival that is centered in, but not limited to, Downtown Cairo.

Could you talk to us a bit about the concept for this year’s D-CAF?

The entire idea of it was to blend the familiar and unfamiliar into one. There are a lot of things in our life that might be strange, but we’re used to them, and vice versa. So it’s really about perception. We tried to relate that to contemporary art in the sense that it always attempts to view reality in a different light. There’s a lot of distortion and strangeness there, but also a lot of romanticism and affection.

That’s a message that we tried to nail in our posters. In one of them for instance, you see a giraffe in the street. That’s obviously very strange, but the way we blended and edited it into our promo made it look very natural to the viewer. Contemporary art always tries to do just that, alienating the familiar and challenging our reality. D-CAF has always been all about that.

 

 

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Joop Oank on the way to Cairo for the street performance. We can't wait to see the reactions of everyone in public. pic.twitter.com/kjhP…

D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival

Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) is Egypt’s first international multi-disciplinary contemporary arts festival. The 6th edition of D-CAF (#DCAF17) will take place over three weeks from the 17th of March to the 8th of April 2017 at multiple sites in Downtown Cairo. D-CAF will include local, regional and international music, theatre, dance, visual arts and film by cutting-edge artists from Egypt, the Arab world, and beyond. In addition to featuring established Downtown cultural spaces and theatres, D-CAF uses non-traditional sites such as historical buildings, storefronts, alleyways, and rooftops as sites for performances, events, and arts installations, with the aim of bringing audiences and performers to engage with the city in a new way. With its diverse and first-rate programming, D-CAF aspires to become one of the most important annual Arab art events by reaching out to a broad spectrum of Egyptian audiences, creating bridges between Arab artists, international curators and programmers, as well as capitalising on Downtown Cairo’s unique cultural, social and architectural heritage. Furthermore, the D-CAF team seeks not just to bring the best in international contemporary culture to Cairo, but also to deliver a highly professional and well-publicised international festival. Follow us on: Instagram: @dcafegypt Twitter: https://twitter.com/DCAFEgypt Press: www.dcafpress.com Blog: www.d-caf.org/blog
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts FestivalWednesday, March 29th, 2017 at 1:34am
Mother, loosen my tongue (UK) DCAF 17
From 23 March to 12 April
Open on Weekdays from 5 - 9 PM & on Weekends from 3 - 9 PM
Location: 29 Hoda Shaarawi - First Floor

Artists Noor Afshan Mirza & Brad Butler's exhibition Mother, loosen my tongue or adorn me with a lighter burden brings forth a con uence of occult and radical politics. It includes large scale collages drawn from their research in radical and psychic archives, alongside a recent video piece Everything for Everyone and Nothing for Us, where a protester-in-training uses movement to exorcise an internalized authoritative (Thatcher’s) voice, retraining the body to resist capitalism.
Séance in Real Fiction Dinner and Talk I D CAF17
The exhibition is followed by a Dinner & Talk with Noor Afshan Mirza & Brad Butler (Séance in Real Fiction) on 30 March at 7 pm untill late. You can easily register bys ending an email wiht the title in the subject to (workshops@orientprductions.org)

معرض الفنانان نور أفشان ميرزا وبراد بتلر "أمي، أطلقي لساني أو زينيني بحملٍ أخف" يظهر الالتقاء بين الغيبيات والسياسة الراديكالية. يتضمن العرض أعمال كولاج كبيرة مأخوذة عن بحثهم في الأراشيف الراديكالية والروحانية، جنباً إلى جنب مع مقطع فيديو حديث بعنوان "كل شيء لكل الناس ولا شيء لنا" والذي يصوّر شخصاً يتدرب على فعل الاحتجاج باستخدام الحركة ليخلّص الروح من صوت سلطوي مستبطن (صوت ثاتشر) بينما يعيد تدريب الجسد ليقاوم الرأسمالية.

الايام: من ٢٣ مارس حتى ١٢ أبريل
الوقت: أيام الاسبوع من ٥ الى ٩ / الجمعة و السبت من ٣ الى ٩
المكان: ٢٩ شارع هدى الشعراوي- الدور الأول

سيلي المعرض، مناقشة ليلية حول عرض امي، اطلقي لساني أو زينيني بحمل أخف، في شقة المشروع في شارع هدى شعراوي، وأمسية مخصصة للفكر النسوي الجديد وفلسفته . تتضمن تجارب حية و عشاء من تنظيم الفنانين.
اليوم: ٣٠ مارس
الوقت: ٧ مساءً حتى وقت متأخر
المكان: ٢٩ شارع هدى الشعراوي- الدور الأول
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts FestivalTuesday, March 28th, 2017 at 11:39pm
Museum of Contemporary Art I D CAF17
This art project is conceived byRomanian artist Manuel Pelmuş, with a series of ongoing actions, and a complementary programme of readings and lectures. Based on research, involving six performers from Cairo, as well as artists, art historians and curators, the MoCA seeks to look into museum displays, protocols and the social and political function they perform. The idea is to enact a potential museum of contemporary art through movements, bodies, speeches and voices.

Come and attend the ongoing actions in Kodak passageway on these days:

Thursday 30 March from 5 - 8 PM
Friday 31 March from 3 - 6 PM
Saturday 1 Apri from 3 - 6 PM
Friday 7 Apri from 3 - 6 PM
Saturday 8 April from 3 - 6 PM
Sunday 9 April from 5 - 8 PM
Wednesday 12 April from 5 - 8 PM

متحف الفن المعاصر هو مشروع فني يعود تأسيسه إلى الفنان الروماني مانيول بلموس، يتضمن سلسلة مستمرة من الأفعال والعروض الأدائية وبرنامجاً مكملاً من القراءات والمحاضرات وعروض الأفلام. يسعى متحف الفن المعاصر إلى تفكيك ونقد وكشف أعراف المتاحف وبروتوكولات العرض فيها والدور الاجتماعي والسياسي الذي تلعبه، وذلك بناء على أبحاث يشترك فيها ستة مؤدين من القاهرة بالإضافة إلى فنانين ومؤرخين فنيين ومنسقين. وتكمن الفكرة وراء المشروع في تجسيد مجموعة دائمة محتملة أو متحف محتمل للفنون المعاصرة من خلال الحركة والأجساد والأحاديث والأصوات.

نشوفكم في الأيام دي في ممر كوداك:
الخميس٣٠ مارس من ٥ - ٨ مساءً
الجمعة ٣١ مارس من ٣ - ٦ مساءً
السبت ١ أبريل من ٣ - ٦ مساءً
الجمعة ٧ أبريل من ٣ - ٦ مساءً
السبت ٨ أبريل من ٣ - ٦ مساءً
الأحد ٩ أبريل من ٥ - ٨ مساءً
الأربع ١٢ أبريل من ٥ - ٨ مساءً
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts FestivalMonday, March 27th, 2017 at 10:31pm
When we asked Marc Nammour where the name 99 came from, he explained, "The name “99” is derived from the fact that the French government places that number at the end of your identification card when you’re not born in France. So for me, this was just a great opportunity to talk about my identity and to just say to everybody that my identity isn’t just one, but multiple. It is not defined by country or borders. It’s much more than that."

Project 99 is coming to Cairo this Thursday at 9pm at The Greek Campus Black Box.

"إن اسم" 99 "مشتق من حقيقة أن الحكومة الفرنسية تضع هذا الرقم في نهاية بطاقة الهوية الخاصة بك عندما لا تولد في فرنسا، لذلك بالنسبة لي، كان هذا مجرد فرصة عظيمة للحديث عن هويتي و أن أقول للجميع إن هويتي ليست واحدة فقط، بل متعددة، فهي ليست محددة حسب البلد أو الحدود، بل هي أكثر من ذلك بكثير ". من حوارنا مع مارك نامور حول اسم ٩٩

العرض هيكون يوم الخميس الساعة ٩ مساءا في الجريك كامبس بلاك بوكس
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival
"99" de Marc Nammour et Lorenzo Bianchi Hoesch
Présentation de la nouvelle création de Marc Nammour, artiste en résidence à Royaumont, et Lorenzo Bianchi Hoesch. Avec Rishab Prasanna, joueur de flûte bans...
youtube.com
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts FestivalMonday, March 27th, 2017 at 11:48am
الفيلم الكندي الأستاد لزهر رشُِح للؤسكار و حاز على ٢٩ جايزة عالمية في مهرجنات أفلام مختلفة . كٌتب و أٌخرِجَ بفيليب فلاردو و هو فيلم مقتبس من مسرحية كٌتبت بإفلين شينليير.
هيتم عرض الفيلم النهاردة الساعة ٩:٣٠ في سينما زاوية بوسط البلد بترجمة عربية و إنجليزية.
و يوم ٣ أبريل يلية نقاش مع كاتبة النص المسرحي الأساسي إيفلين شينليير

The Canadian movie Monsieur lazhar was nominated for Oscar and won 29 awards. Directed and written by Philippe Falardeau and based on a play by Evelyne de la Cheneliere.
The movie will be screened tonight at 9:30 PM in Zawya with English & Arabic subtitles.

Evelyne, the playwright of the movie, will come to zawya for a second screening and discussion on 3 April .
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts FestivalMonday, March 27th, 2017 at 5:06am
Monsieur Lazhar+Discussion (Canada) I D CAF17 فيلم الأستاذ لزهر
Will be screened tomorrow in Zawya at 9:30
Incendies Film (Canada) I D CAF17 -فيلم حرائق -كندا
will be screened tomorrow at 6:30 in Zawya
هيتعرض فيلم حرائق بكرة (الإثنين) الساعة ٦:٣٠ في سينما زاوية و يليه الأستاذ لزهر الساعة ٩:٣٠ بترجمة عربية و إنجليزية
مستنينكوا !

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