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Fridays at my political studio

November 13, 2011 Leave a comment

My studio is a space where young artists, from all disciplines, can come together in a safe environment to discuss art and politics and exchange ideas with their peers. The idea came about as a small ‘mentorship’ initiative in 2008: back then, I decided to open my studio every Friday for younger peers to come exchange ideas and get help with their careers if they needed it. Two years later these Friday encounters had become so popular that sometimes we had 20 artists meeting in a 130 meters square studio space, discussing the concepts and craft of art production.  It was meant to be an informal technical and conceptual platform where knowledge, and artistic best practice, was disseminated from older to younger artists. I felt the need to offer this kind of exposure to my younger peers, as I was entirely deprived of this type of mentorship.

After the revolution, the numbers attending the open studio rose dramatically and the subjects being discussed turned from art to politics. One Friday we had 45 artists, writers, musicians, and two international TV crews, all discussing politics, and the future of the country and its cultural institutions. Someone proposed the name “Political Studio” and somehow it stuck!

The revolution brought with it a new need for active political participation. It is no longer enough to be an artist – I’ve realized that I am capable of assuming my responsibility as a citizen too. In my studio, we discuss ideas and concepts, and share thoughts on the future of the country. I must confess that I learn a lot from my younger peers. It was this younger generation of artists that led me to Tahrir Square.

Today, I think my political studio is a platform for more knowledge, more ideas, more possibilities and more creative solutions. The dynamics of each informal encounter is unique and specific to the session according to who is attending and who decided to come that morning. There are several brainstorming corners and dialogues. All without any commitment, just bringing more ideas to the table.

As time goes by, more and more people come and go, in and out, some out of curiosity and others out of commitment. The whole environment is informal, and attendance is optional; we agree on dates of work, of editing, of music rehearsals and of writing proposals; the only commitment is to have the studio open each Friday. The warm atmosphere allows for better trans-generational understanding, something I have personally missed during the 24 years of my professional career.

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