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Darb 17 18: Contemporary Art in Cairo’s Fustat Community

Darb 17 18: Contemporary Art in Cairo’s Fustat Community
    written by
    Hannah Cooper

    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.

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