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Propaganda, Aesthetics and Ruptures

Winter 2014 | ArteZine

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Propaganda, Aesthetics and Ruptures

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This publication deals thematically with ruptures in a given artistic practice or within a country’s arts history, with special attention to power dynamics in the art world. As a consequence it also deals with propaganda and the role of the state in shaping certain dynamics of power. HaRaKa operates as a non-profit platform for research and development in the field of dance and performance in Egypt, and invests its efforts and resources regionally. In 2006, the research component of the  Adham Hafez Company expanded outside of the productions realm and became a separate entity; HaRaKa. Working with projects ranging from publication to alternative educational models, HaRaKa has become a platform for thinking contemporary performance, producing longterm projects such as ‘CriticaliTea’ lectures and talks or the ‘TransDance’ festival. The latest project is ‘ARC.HIVE of Contemporary Arab Performing Arts’; which aims to document contemporary performance from the Arab world, and works towards situating its material in three locations, on three continents. It is both an ‘Arc’ that collects and preserves documents, and a ‘Hive’ that generates new work and knowledge. ‘ARC.HIVE’ aims to produce regular publications under the umbrella of ‘Cairography’, a project that produces and translates texts that deal with the performing body and the critical knowledge that surrounds it.

The voices in this publication are diverse and aim to situate the actual moment in contemporary performing artistic practices from the current Arabic speaking world. These issues are broached in the texts of demographer and researcher Sawsan Gad who traces the troubling story of the ‘Reda Troupe’ in Cairo against a revolution’s history in Egypt’s 20th century, while Abdullah Al-Bayyari’s words deal with power, manipulation and the body, as he studies what political performances are in the Arab world now. We find echoes on power in Ismail Fayed’s text, as he addresses the role of the ministry of culture in Egypt and how it shaped generations of citizens – and artists. Fayed’s text sheds light on three iconic performances that were produced, staged and aired within the last 60 years in Cairo, reminding us of Gad’s longterm investigations of the Reda files. Later in the publication, we trace historical and institutional ruptures that suddenly emerge in one work of art, to accidentally raise questions on shame, and gazes at its viewer. “Ayib” is Shayma Aziz’s newest work, that problematizes modes of seeing and societal conventions; those directed towards a woman, or towards the production of beauty in contemporary art.

‘On propaganda, aesthetics and ruptures’ was produced in Cairo, 2013

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