Over the past few years, Cairo has witnessed a contemporary arts movement bloom in unbelievable ways through the increasing support of local visionaries. Non-profit and independently owned spaces have opened up one after another in an effort to bring the art scene out into the Cairo community.
In 2008, local artist and cultural activist Moataz Nasr took his comprehensive vision to the next level with the brainchild known today as Darb 17 18 Contemporary Art and Cultural Centre.
Darb 17 18’s location in the Fustat area near Coptic Cairo is tucked away amongst some of the most ancient buildings of this phenomenal city. Its location in the centre of a vibrant craftsmen community uniquely speaks for the Centre’s vision of being a jumping-off point for advancement of the contemporary art movement in Egypt, as well as engaging with the social and cultural groups within the Fustat community.
The gallery itself goes beyond the basic function of a place to display art; it encourages experimentation and greater perspective into contemporary art in the area as well as a keen sense of aesthetic tradition and artistic merit. Darb 17 18’s vision includes the exhibiting of unseen local artists’ work alongside international artists that are new to Cairo’s art scene; providing a cross cultural exchange and opportunities for advancement.
The Centre also offers various workshops, educational programs, poetry performances, open-mic nights, and other public viewing opportunities.
In just four months, Darb has hosted three festivals, including the Art Beats Festival in May 2010, bringing together various artists and musicians on a local and international level. The festival’s success was driven by Darb’s vision for diversity and its creation of new opportunities for the Cairo community to become more involved in the arts.
In late June 2010, the Refugee Film festival hosted screenings of over twelve films, telling the story of refugees both worldwide and on the local level in order to raise awareness of the situation. The films were shown in the Centre’s open-air theatre, while giant bean bags were placed around for comfortable seating.
Aside from festivals, Darb 17 18 hosted a fashion show in May 2010, displaying recycled fashions created by a students’ workshop that used only organic and reused materials. Simultaneously, the 'Uncovered' art exhibit featured artists’ work from Egypt and Spain , which aimed at discussing the relationship between fashion and society.
Most recently, a film screening was given of Garbage Dreams; a critically acclaimed documentary by Egyptian director Mai Iskander, which covers the Egyptian garbage collector community. Catch the trailer here .
Since 2008, Darb has successfully fashioned a lively, communal art space that continues to flourish far beyond the walls of Darb’s serene location, and out into the rest of the city. More information on Darb 17 18 Contemporary Art and Culture Centre can be found on the website . Make sure to keep checking back with Cairo 360 for all of the exciting, upcoming events at Darb.