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Showing posts from 2012

Transmutations of Ankhs, Pixels and Wood

Every delay has its benefit. Wise words indeed.

After so many hints, it is finally time for some reveal, as two projects we set in motion at the beginning of the year finally culminate into programme. 
First, a couple of words on the we of things: We are, in this case, Spring Lessons, an international group that defines itself thus:
"The Spring Lessons Initiative is an international forum for artistic research. It follows and presents current creative developments and cultural projects, explores new forms of civil self-organisation and creates spaces for dialogue and cultural education."

What this means in practice is that we have been putting on a series of Events since the end of 2011. We have been very lucky to be able to collaborate with the likes of the MAD couple, AlFilm, Eka3, From Here To Fame and many more. 
We approached this year with the goal of putting on one event a month, exploring, amongst other things, the revolutionary aspects of Street Art, the cultural pr…

More Hints: TransMUTATIONS


Here I go again, hinting at things that will come your way… soon.

Sketches: ¿Angel?, Liftoff, Arena, Bar Scene

This week brings you four sketches, in pencil, calligraphic marker and Sharpie.In black and white. Now just add some water and watch them bloom!

Thawrat al Torgoman, or how to get to Alex by bus

Originally published by the Arab Spring Collective, whose name I don"t like. I do like the innitiative, though.

t had to be the bus. Many trips to Sinai and between Cairo and Alexandria had prepared me for an easy, pleasant, though lenghty travel experience on an air-conditioned bus. They did not prepare me for what turned out to be a demonstration of the new will of the Egyptians to confront authority and demand, if not their basic human rights, at least fair and reliable commercial services. A fresh day had begun, with the sun murkily sihloutting my view of Cairo skyrises. The first thing I did was take a taxi to Torgoman station near Ramsis, the main train station. Today was a day for a bus drive, and long- awaited meetings, fish on the Mediteranean and coffee in the Brasilian Roastery. It was a day for a trip to Alexandria. Upon entering the station, coincidence arranged the now- expected Quranic recital through the public address system. A small crowd was waiting to buy ticket…

Public Women

Back when I was in Cairo, a couple of days ago, we were giving a workshop on women in public space and the way they are seen. Below, find some sketches of the women I saw. Very rough, as they mostly happened in situations the book tells you not to sketch in...

Idea: The game of Cards.

Observation of the recent political machinations in Egypt have led me to an idea that I'd like to put out there and invite artists and non- artists to participate in.*

Those who have known me for awhile also know that I have a long history with strategic card games, starting with Magic: The Gathering and ending with the iGame Shadow Era. The goal of these games is to defeat your opponent using a series of abilities, items, monsters or heroes, described and given a value on a series of illustrated playing cards.

In politics, economy and marketing, we often hear of the need to play a particular card "The terrorism card" "The Economic Crisis Card" "The Education Card" "The propaganda card". Taking this as a starting point, the idea is to create a real-life set of cards describing the moves that are made in high politics and the actors, current or historical, involved in them.

The aim of this game is, in my mind, to playfully spread an awarenes…

24.06: Avoiding civil war

After a long and grueling speech by, Farouk Sultan the PEC high commissioner,it's finally clear: Mohammad Morsi is the new and improved president of Egypt. One of his first undertakings is to resign his position as head of the Freedom and Justice Party. Tahrir fills up, from a throng of a few thousand, to a chanting, jubilating, dancing legion of many thousands. It's the first time I witness Tahrir celebrating in this way. It's a cause I don't feel part of. They chant “Shafiq, who is your president? Morsi!”
At an appointment at Darb 1718, which I find out is a house in a quarter rennovated by an Italian cultural fund in 1998, we sit, drinking Shay Koshary, discussing dogs, the army and cats in the quiet evening air that blows in coptic Cairo. On the way back, I notice that the spectacle of the election has given way to a much older conflict: England is playing against Italy and no amount of politics is going to interrupt the sporting pleasure this causes many. If twit…

22/23.06: Parties, Sudan and disillusionment.

--> 22.06
Finally, the day of the great reveal is here. Then it's gone again. Postponed again.
Parliament, controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, had been dissolved, or stripped of its powers. It has been made irrelevant by military decree. Morsi has won the elections. People say Shafiq will nonetheless win the elctions due to ballots ma7sheya (stuffed ballots). The Brotherhood have rediscovered Tahrir as a platform for voicing their opinion. They threaten not to be violent.
Some article in the transitional constitution states that the results of an election must be announced up to three days after the polls are counted. This is the fifth day. Ballots ma7sheya can't take that long to make. I sit, smoking, in Zamalek, following the developments in front of a room fan, the smoke a whirlpool of nicotine, tar and ash. Twitter is more concerned with developments in Sudan, rather than focusing on local non-developments. Sudan is in revolt? Didn't they just partition the …

19.06.2012: Thoughts before takeoff

What follows is a collection of thoughts I had during my flight to Cairo. I'm publishing these as are, without corrections or editing.

Locked in a room in the Berlin nights, it's easy to imagine you're somewhere else. It's hard to imagine the space around your flat as a backyard, a street, a city and finally the county you are in. The darkness of the short hours between ten, when it gets dark, and about three-fourty, the time when the black of night begins to slide into the blue of a sunny new day create a vacuum around the space you are staying in, a state of possibilty and geographic uncertainty.

Once I got in the car with my father I realised this: I'm going back to Cairo, for the second time in the space of six months. I also realise that my official appelation has shifted form “Thawragi” (Revolutionary) to “Baltagi” (Thug). Though this does not bother me personally, it does demonstrate the shift in perception that the Military Junta is try to effect. From be…

Rant: Clones, Zombies, Tucholsky and a square.

Mabrouk ya Masr.

Last year on the night of the eleventh of February, I was assaulted by a strange thought which I started to write down, but then abandoned in favor of a more positive and hopeful outlook on life and the effects of the revolution on Egypt.

The thought went thus: this was too easy. This is the military saying to itself "Let the children blow off some steam while the grownups maintain the status quo." This is not going to end well.

More than a year later, this thought comes back to me, mocking my unwillingness to express it at the time every time I open this blog. We spend some tense hours together, debating how best to write it down, to draw it, to bring it from the tiny realm of my brain into the wider world. We will never be friends, but we have learned to live together and learn from each other… it's a mutually productive relationship.

This was too easy. Unprepared, Tunesians, Egyptians, Syrians, Libyans, Yemenis have plunged into a state of revolution…

Egyptian Embassy in Berlin Bombed

It is very enjoyable to watch Egyptian culture and lifestyle impressing itself upon Berlin. This comes in various forms: gatherings, lifestyles, sense of timing and more recently, street art.
The Egyptian embassy can celebrate its position as the focal point of Egyptian territory in Berlin, having been turned into a point of expression for the community in the city, who have expressed their distaste at a recent round of military arrests in the run-up to the elections in the country. 
Going back to ancient traditions, the Egyptian people have always painted their opinions on the walls of their home soil. Passing by it this morning, I notice that the one piece of Egyptian soil in Berlin had peen stamped with the seal of protest, the Egyptian Falcon is in the crosshairs, along with the SCAF officers. 
It may just be the Egyptian activist addition to the Berlin Biennale, which waxes very political this year.
Photo from Mad Graffiti Week Berlin

Al-Bachacha / آلبخاحة (The Spray Can): 1

This is the first in what I hope will become a regular format.

The last post on this blog briefly describes my first time to use only spray paint to create artwork in the framework of a workshop inviting some of the best and the greatest in Egyptian and German Street art.  Somewhere along the line, watching those two masters of cans, El Seed and Case, I realised that practice must make a lot better, even if the light colors by German Monatana paint is too thin.

Since that time, I've been engaging in mad amounts of practice, forming lines and shapes and beginners luck.

So, in celebration of the fun had with cans in the privacy of my flat, have some abstract shapes and colours (and a couple of stencils):

Moments in spray paint: Minutes from the Frankfurt Graffiti workshop

This was published on the now- defunct Daily News Egypt Website on the 17th of March 2012. 

Caram Kapp is one of the artists that participated in the "Festival of Egyptian Culture" held at the Tutankhamun exhibit in Frankfurt. The below are moments in time picked out of the workshop "Egyptian Street Art and Arabic Graffiti" on April 7-14, 2012.
Amidst the skyscrapers of Frankfurt, hidden away near the train station on Güterplatz, stands the tomb of Tutankhamun. More interestingly, in front of that stands a wall, and an out-of use generator building. Over the last few days, terrible things have been happening to this wall, some may say. In the opinion of some others, street artists are painting a mural.

Flown in from Egypt, Paris, Berlin and Frankfurt via Sao Paolo, a crew of emerging and established practitioners of the art of mural statements have begun painting a wall. Their names recall comic book heroes: Ammar Abo Bakr, Aya Tarek, Case, El Seed, and Ganzeer. Toget…

Cairo Journals 2012 – 3 — A hint of Fear

Coming home also meant having to face another reality, that of the rumor mill of Cairo. Constantly surrounded by people, you can't escape it. 

The outline of a body, reminiscent of murder scenes in American movies haunts the front cover of Egypt Today. The headline: "You could be next". 
Every evening, I come home at impossible hours. The security guard unlocks the door for me, and we engage in tired conversation. He tells me of his time as a security guard at Apple, military training and Egypts secrets, of weapons on Tahrir and the role of the media. On the nights after Port Said, he also tells me of muggings, daylight robbery and murders and trucks. For half an hour every night, I listen to him, wondering when they started locking the front door at ten before locking myself in the house with a double shot of single malt. I also wonder how much of his information is true, and how much based on hearsay.
Our Maid, Shaima', talks along the same lines "We never hea…

Cairo Journals 2012 — 2 — Kalaam Faregh

There is an Egyptian phrase called kalaam faregh. Translated, it means ‘empty talk’.

One of the main reasons for my return was to discover the new culture scene in Cairo I had been hearing so much about from Germany. Over the year, I had attended, organised and participated in many events in Berlin related to the new voice that the Egyptian people had found. However, after a year of talking and spectating, I felt that much of what I was saying was repeating what I had picked up from the internet or other people without an opinion of my own about them. In other words, kalam faregh.
Luckily, my talk was about to become filled, in some fashion and I was about to farragh some new kalaam. Farragh has another meaning.
One of my main interests in ongoing Cairo has been the street art scene. Or graffiti scene. In pythonesque manner, a war of walls has erupted. The factions involved in the ongoing democratic process have revived a long tradition of leaving your mark wherever you go. Going bac…