François Matarasso – “There is always an alternative. Always.”

Recently, I facilitated a talk for the Scottish Culture Collective by my friend Heba El Cheikh. She spoke about her work as a cultural producer and activist in Cairo and other cities of the Nile delta during the past decade, focusing on City Shadows, a project in Port Said, the city created in 1859 at the northern end of the Suez Canal. Ostensibly, the project was about using neglected heritage sites as spaces to present the work of young artists, and that is certainly what was done. One outcome is a toolkit for similar projects.

But the conversation with Heba was really about something more intangible and more important. Heba co-founded Mahatat Collective in 2012, in the time during and after the Arab Spring. The context for artists was uncertain—some things were possible, some plans led to dead ends. If there was funding, it came from foreign donors, with expectations formed in safer places. The best that could be hoped for, in such conditions, was that each project, each day, would be sufficient unto itself.

See more of this blog post at the following link –

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