Berit Schuck Opens up on Visual Arts Program

Berit Schuck

With D-CAF just around the corner, Visual Arts Curator Berit Schuck outlines her plans for the festivities…

 

Can you introduce this year’s D-CAF Visual Arts Program?

When the director of D-CAF, Ahmed El Attar, asked me to be the Curator of this year’s Visual Arts Program, I proposed to look at exhibitions differently, considering that the act of showing contemporary art in Egypt has become increasingly difficult over the past six years, specifically for artists and art institutions that work across disciplines, cultures, and media. To do research, create a new work, develop an exhibition format, and discuss it with various audiences has become a critical, performative, without even looking at the content of the works. So, I decided to show present manifestations of contemporary art that reflect on the current circumstances and to present them in the form of an imaginary museum.

Can you elaborate on the format of your exhibition?

The artists I have recently worked with produce on the spot, process-oriented and site-specific. The thread that binds them together is their interest in defining new spaces for research, production and discussions. For instance, Adelita Husni-Bey, an artist who was born in Italy and now lives in New York, creates learning spaces by using experimental pedagogy in her work. This inspired me to look at what the artists do more closely. I found out that in addition to Adelita’s spaces that I call learning spaces, other artists I am interested in work with the idea of the museum. It almost seemed natural to combine what they do and give it a title. So, the title of my exhibition, the Cairo Museum of Contemporary Art, originated from the artists’s proposals.

Does that mean the program will have a theme?

Yes, I have invited three artists who are all interested in the question what contemporary art does and more specifically what kind of social and political spaces it performs. Which means the CAMOCA is not an actual site, but rather an auctorial device. When you think about my programme as a programme of a museum, it all over the sudden open the possibility to talk about an imaginary institutional space that we don’t have here in Cairo, but which would allow to show art projects and exhibtiions by contempoaryr artists more regularly, speak about themes that are not addressed by the museums we have, and preserve what contemporary art practices make visible for the next generation.

Can you elaborate more on that concept of responsive, or site-specific work?

Let’s begin with Manuel Pelmus, a Romanian choreographer who has worked in the field of visual arts for the past couple of years. Manuel is known for the immaterial works that he has staged with the artist Maria Alexandria Pirici at the most renowned art institutions for contemporary art, for instance the Centre Pompidou and Tate Modern. In 2015, Manuel was asked to create a new performative action for the Kyiv Biennale, and he chose to work at the National Museum of Kyiv, which was super political since he invited only female performers to respond to the current exhibition of that museum called ‘Heroes’, an exhibition about significant male characters of the country throughout history. Last year, he worked with non-professional performers at SALT in Istanbul and asked them to re-enact, one of his earlier works called Public Collection of Modern Art. Here in Cairo he will work with local performers, dancers and writers and ask them to enact a museum of contemporary art for Cairo. His work fo rthe BVisual Arts Program will be exploring and reflecting on art museums. I am happy that Manuel decided to work with performers and artists who live and work in Cairo and are aware of where art museums and public collections stand here.

Which other artists have you invited to take part in the Visual Arts Program?

The second artist is Adelita Husni-Bey whom I have mentioned already. Adelita won’t be able to come to Cairo (Note: Adelita Husni-Bey has been invited to represent Italy at the Venice Biennale which opens in May), but has agreed to show two of her recent works with Arabic translation. So, I will show her film After the Finish Line and her book In the Cloud – two of her most recent works – for the first time in Cairo. Both have been realised for Movement Break, the artist’s first exhibition in the United States at the Kadist Foundation in San Francisco (2015). Both are based on constructive research using experimental pedagogy and reflect on the culture of competition embodied by American teenager athletes. There’ll be space for a discussion of the works and of questions like “where does the pressure to continuously perform really stem from”?  The third artist that I have invited is actually an artist duo, the British artists Noor Afshan Mirza & Brad Butler who have been working together for almost twenty years and have until now published their practice as part of the Museum of Non-Participation (2008-2016), a multi-layered project, that started when they saw a demonstration of Pakistani workers through the window of an art museum that featured an exhibition about inclusion and exclusion, but not the workers’ struggle. For the 6th edition of the D-CAF, Noor & Brad will now connect earlier works including two video works from 2012 and 2014 and The Ectoplasm of Neoliberalism, a series of digital prints on silks, with their current research project that looks into the state of the state of Turkey. Called Mother, loosen my tongue or adorn mw with a lighter burden, will be thus an exhibition-in-progress. The artists will animate their installation with private and public conversations as well as a production-oriented workshop on the collages and the political and social function it performs.

What are the spaces that you envision using for the Visual Arts Program?

We will use the Kodak Passageway to show Manuel’s work and host discussions. Adelita’s work will be in installed in the Kodak Gallery facing the street. Noor & Brad’s exhibition, the first exhibition of their practice in Egypt, will occupy a 12-room apartment on Hoda Shaarawi Street, which is great. Hoda Shaarawi was the first first female activist to organise a demonstration in Cairo. Three additional rooms on the same floor of the artists apartment will be used by writers who live and work in Cairo to cover the events that will complement the exhibtions and to produce various online publications over the duration of the Visual Arts Program.

 

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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, July 19th, 2017 at 9:52pm
Tamasi Collective is seeking dedicated & eager recruits to fill in the positions of "Program Assistant" & "Social Media & Outreach Officer"!
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts FestivalSaturday, July 8th, 2017 at 10:47pm
We are taking front seats here at #smdayegypt we are excited and looking forward for the rest of the day

#sociamediaday #DCAF #Orientproductions #Cairo #downtowncairo #Egypt #smdayegy2017
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts FestivalWednesday, July 5th, 2017 at 3:28am
AAF- Arab Arts Focus

A project by D-CAF Festival (Cairo) and Northern Stage (Newcastle) in collaboration with Tamasi collective for the performing arts AAF2017 will be a part of, Edinburgh Festival Fringe the world's largest Arts festival.

Considering this dire need for mutual understanding through artistic exchange, The Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) began the biennial performance program, the Arab Arts Focus (AAF) in 2014.
The event invites producers and programmers from all over the world to experience a dense programme of the best in contemporary Arab theatre and performance.

The AAF was conceived with the objective of supporting the development of the arts sector in the Arab world by providing artists from the region the opportunity to showcase their work to an international audience of industry professionals.

The previous success of the program over the past two editions (in 2016 and 2014) inspired us to attempt this initiative on a larger scale, and to deliver the AAF on an international stage. So came the idea of AAF @ Edinburgh 2017

Follow AAF- Arab Arts Focus to know more about the Programme.
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts FestivalSaturday, June 24th, 2017 at 3:07pm
We wish you a Blessed Eid Everyone ! 🎉🎊
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts FestivalWednesday, June 21st, 2017 at 1:44am
D-CAF's 3 year old project; The Arab Arts Focus is launching again this year, but this time it's flying to one of the biggest art festivals in the world; The Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August for its 70th anniversary.

AAF- Arab Arts Focus will be the first Arab Arts showcase ever taking place at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Performance venues will be Summerhall, Dance Base National Centre For Dance, and Newtown Theater.

Presenting a dense program of performances by promising Arab artists in various disciplines from theatre to talks to dance, we just cannot wait for this one!

Follow their page for more information on the performances.
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#AAFE #Arabartsfocus #Edinburgh #Fringe
AAF Website: http://aaf.orientproductions.org/
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Website: https://www.edfringe.com
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival
D-CAF - Downtown Contemporary Arts FestivalThursday, May 18th, 2017 at 12:56am
Puppet Animation Workshop for Beginners and Marionette Manipulation Workshop for Advanced level back in March as part of D-CAF 2017
by the Hungarian marionette artist Bence Sarkadi

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