Creative License

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bikya Masr writes about CriticaliTea 1 :: Struggles of political art in Egypt

CAIRO: Political art in Egypt faces hardships, but activists and artists are hopeful that their struggles can be met and overcome in the post-revolution atmosphere.

On Monday, Egyptian artists gathered to discuss the ongoing struggles of producing political art during the revolution.

The British Council in Cairo, in collaboration with the HaRaKa Project, hosted the new cultural event titled “CriticaliTea”.

CriticaliTea is a series of sessions and talks open to the public, geared towards creating dialogue between artists from the performing and visual arts sector and intellectuals from other disciplines. All to create a better mode of dialogue and understanding.

The first session, titled ‘Performing the Political’, focused on the relationship between artistic expression and the revolution. Since the start of the Egyptian revolution, many artists have struggled to incorporate the political developments into their art.

All of the artists that shared at the talk agreed that they felt a certain pressure to express the revolution in their work. The constant pressure of creating a film on the revolution especially frustrated a young female Egyptian filmmaker. Inspiration, she said, cannot be forced.

There are some who believe that now is the time to create political art because we are living through critical changes.

However, there are also artists, like the ones attending CriticaliTea, who want to be a human first before an artist. It is difficult, they said, to connect with both worlds, as they demand unique types concentration and emotion.

The same filmmaker reflected on the time she was lit on fire while filming a protest in Tahrir. It wasn’t until she got home and re-watched the footage that she was reminded of being set on fire. While she was absorbed in her artistic world, she lost site of what was going on around her.

Creating art during the revolution has been difficult for these artists.

Moataza Salah, a performing artist, needs more time to reflect and process the revolution before she can reenact the event. She feels that darkness and traumatizing personal experiences cannot be easily translated. Salah has not worked since the revolution.

“The first 18 days ties itself with a ribbon and lends itself to art. I was inspired to create a beautiful musical about the revolution. But now I am not the same person and I cannot do the musical,” she said.

While these artists have difficulty producing political art immediately, it will be a matter of time before beautiful, moving, and inspirational art is created.

While there is hope for effective political art in the future, many expressed concern for the future of the performing and visual art community in Egypt.

As the Muslim Brotherhood takes control of the country, artists fear crackdowns and increasing censorship.


Article by: Natalie Garland

Monday, June 25, 2012

The New Reality

While we witness great changes in the political scene in Egypt and the Arabic Speaking Region since the Arab Spring has started, we witness great changes in the nature of art, and in the dynamics that govern artistic and cultural practices. We witness new economies being born, new markets for particular representations, new frames of presenting and representing, we witness the potential rise of censorship and violence towards artists, and the threat of actual violence a like we just saw in Tunisia, and we witness a redefinition of the term 'political'. 
And, like every institution is comprised of people, and when people are interrupted by history they must question about their practices, their positions, and what they generate and contribute, HaRaKa's team spent the last year in research, structural development and understanding of the colossal moment, we are living in, without immediately responding to a transient nascent new market for the so-called 'political work' that is justified by the revolutions, and that commodifies the revolution, its meaning, its essence, its symbols.
With the birth of a New Political Reality, great dreams and great doubts rise to everyone's minds and hearts. 

HaRaKa's team would like to announce that the way the project has been engaged in developing and pushing the boundaries of what movement, dance and performance are framed to be within our contemporary reality in Egypt and the Arabic Speaking Region, that the project shall continue to do even more so. With the birth of a New Political Reality HaRaKa promises to assess and respond to needs in the artistic scene in Egypt, regardless of setbacks or impediments and to constantly be informed about its practices through the ever-so-changing reality and the new identities that are being forged. HaRaKa promises to be engaged actively to defend freedom of expression and the presence of the body in the arts through collaboratively working with its local partners in Egypt and the Region.

It is with no doubt that the current moment is a challenge to the artist as a profession just as much as it is a challenge to the artist as a political subject. Yet, it is within the arts that we continue dreaming, even through moments of doubt. It is with arts that we assert on the importance of imagining and of rethinking reality and proposing alternative modes of seeing, of doing, and of thinking. It is the duty of artists to collectively be engaged with the current context, and to collectively produce systems of support to their practice, their colleagues and their community, and empower and inspire their communities.

HaRaKa announces its new interdisciplinary program for development and research that manifests in its largest international Dance festival that shall showcase work from Egyptian and Arab artists locally and internationally, a new pan-Arab archive project for Contemporary performative practices, a series of critical encounters taking places over tea, and a line of publications that work on generating a strong body of critical texts around contemporary movement based artistic practices in the Region.

With every great moment of change there are dreams and doubts. And, what we artists should do is to justkeep working, since artists deal with nothing but hardships in every context they operate within.


Saturday, June 23, 2012


CriticaliTea is a series of events, part of the current collaboration between HaRaKa حَ رَ كَ and the British Council in Cairo. 

Hosted at the British Council Cairo, and organized by HaRaKa, Criticalitea aims to bring people to think together, raise critical questions, while enjoying a cup of tea.

CriticaliTea start on the 25th of June at 7 pm with a session titled "Performing the political". HaRaKa will be inviting artists, art critics and political sciences specialists.

Due to the nature of the project, we will have a small number of audience. In order to book your seat, please RSVP to