Linking the local scene to the international one; promoting new talented individuals and bringing them together with established artists; moving the spotlight of international contemporary art from traditional areas to emerging scenes and artists; stimulating a discussion on contemporary art and society; favoring connections between different artistic and cultural communities; and promoting innovation and social change through culture: these are the goals that prompted Moataz Nasreldin, one of the artists featured in The Divine Comedy exhibition, and Simon Njami, curator of the exhibition as well as lettera27’s advisor, to create and bring into existence the first edition of the Off Biennale Cairo entitled Something Else. Starting on November 28, this major month-long event will mainly be based atDarb 1718, Contemporary Art & Culture Center in Cairo, but will also involve various locations around the city, including art centers and other venues.
We at lettera27 felt that these goals were fully aligned with the driving motives that prompted us to create and develop AtWork educational format. We believe that local artistic practices can only be supported by establishing a dialogue with international networks. We also believe that an international approach can only be based on a thorough knowledge of local contexts, of their specificities and qualities. In pursuit of these common goals, the new chapter of AtWork will take place at the Off Biennale, in the heart of Cairo’s artistic scene, which vibrates with artists and amazing creative initiatives and will be further enhanced by an event gathering more than 100 artists from all over the world and eight international curators.
In this context, AtWork workshop will be held from December 3 to 5, with a creative and educational program addressed to 15 students from the Department of Art of the American University in Cairo, under the guidance of Simon Njami, in collaboration with art professor Heba Amin. The workshop draws its theme from the title of the Off Biennale: “Something Else.” It is an opportunity to come together and search for new artistic and social perspectives on the world; a way to question our certainties, step out of our comfort zones, seek alternative routes off the beaten track, and overcome pre-established schemes.
In taking up the challenge launched by Simon Njami, participants will have to deconstruct their certainties and the images they have of themselves, questioning their own identity as individuals and artists, and their relationship with the outside world. It will be a small prolific destruction, indispensable for becoming aware of their identities and creative processes. The traces of this constitutive deconstruction will be collected in Moleskine notebooks, which will be shown in an exhibition co-curated by the students from December 7 to 21, 2015 at Darb 1718. Along with these notebooks, viewers will also have the opportunity to browse through lettera27’s AtWork digital collection.
We are proud to contribute to the creation of an event that will certainly become a reference point in the international art world. This will also be an opportunity to find new inspiration and perspectives on the AtWork format, which renews itself at every step, collecting vibrations, ideas and creative resources from the local contexts with which it comes in contact.