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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


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