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Caravan of Culture

ElMadina’s Tikeya project promotes international artistic exchange across the country


By Nada Baraka


A new art residency is looking keep the artists on the move throughout Egypt. Organized by the Alexandria-based cultural NGO ElMadina for Performing and Digital Arts, the three-week Tikeya: Nomadic Research and Networking Residency in Egypt wants international artists to experience not just Egypt’s urban art scenes, but the rich cultural traditions of the desert oases. ElMadina www.elmadinaarts.com is accepting last-minute applications through January 25, with the program running February 1-March 2, 2014.


“Primarily it is a residency project”, explains Mohab Saber, executive director of ElMadina and project manager for Tikeya, adding that participants will be able to form unofficial networks from shifting in different art foundations and culture setups. “The main objective of the project would be to reconnect the Arabic heritage in Egypt.”


While the project is open to anyone who is interested in culture, Saber says this project is mainly designed to promote cultural exchange with international participants from diverse professions — writers, social scientists, musicians, cultural researchers, visual artists, curators, craft professionals, media artists, anthropologists, astronomers, geologists, performers, urban planners, architects, environmental scientists and humanists.


The project will take the group from Alexandria to Siwa Oasis to Farafra and Baharya Oasis to Cairo. In the process, participants will engage with the old Caravanserai tradition of the Arab World, promoting multicultural exchange through travel, networking and self-reflexivity. To this end, ElMadina is collaborating with the Center for Research and Creativity Casamarles (CRCC) www.cercca.com in Catalonia, Spain.
The visits will incorporate digital, photographic and visuals arts as well as architectural and cultural outlets. By the end of the three-week program, the travelers will document their personal experiences and reactions in a creative work of their choosing. The works — which could include photos, videos, quality essays, painting or other art forms — will be compiled for a presentation housed at Studio ElMadina in Alexandria.


ElMadina was founded in 2000 to promote art through a cultural stage. The NGO offers professional training in fields of art such performance and graphic design and also tries to make art accessible to the general public.


Human development is a big part of the mission statement of ElMadina in general, notes Saber. Tikeya is their first trial at an international level but on a national level their projects served to entertain and provide purpose. The NGO’s longest project to date was Training in the Streets, which produced three editions over two years. Designed to move performances from the theater to the streets in different parts of Alexandria, this project brought together the artists of ElMadina and national and international professional to train local residents in the performing arts. Shows will held in front of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, near Kom El-Dikka and in other areas.


Other projects include Four walls and Alexandria Forum for Independent Theater & Contemporary Arts (AFIT). ElMadina also hosts a stage in Downtown Alexandria for independent and creative performances open to all audiences.


The Tikeya Project runs February 10-March 2 and costs €750, including travel and accommodation. For more details visit the project webpage http://elmadinaarts.com/en/tikeya. Deadline for applications is January 25.


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