They’re changing the way we understand art. They’re putting Egypt back on the map. They’re movers and shakers – and they’re all women. Time to give credit where it’s due; here’s our roundup of the women making us proud right now.
(Photo courtesy of Bilo Hussein)
Aleya Hamza is an art curator and founder of Gypsum Gallery, which regularly stages challenging and exploratory exhibitions of contemporary art. The gallery also represents excellent Egyptian contemporary artists such as Maha Maamoun and Basim Magdy, who won the prestigious Abraaj Art Prize in 2014 and was named Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year in 2016. Gyspum’s artists and exhibitions have been featured in leading international magazines such as Frieze Magazine, Artforum, Harper’s Bazaar Art and art-agenda. Not only that, but Aleya has curated editions of PhotoCairo and an exhibition at London’s Tate Modern in 2012-2013. The latest exhibition, Indelible by Randa Shaath, runs until April 5th.
Nada Sabet is the co-founder and manager of Noon Creative Enterprises; a company that bridges theatre and performing arts with civil society by using creative communal activities to encourage self-expression, development and education among Egyptians. It sounds like a mouthful, so maybe this viral video will highlight their work: Noon’s latest project was a partnership with UNFPA Egypt to raise awareness around the country about FGM, using relatable, humorous sketches to break the taboo and start a conversation about the terrible practice.
BASMA EL HUSSEINY
(Photo courtesy of Bassam Al-Zoghby)
Basma El Husseiny is one of the unsung heroes of Egypt’s cultural sector, helping Egyptians from all socio-economic backgrounds access and enjoy the arts. As the former director of Al Mawred Al Thaqafy, El Husseiny has extensive experience in Egypt’s cultural projects: she is currently the director of Al Darb Al Ahmar Arts School, which teaches circus and performing arts skills to impoverished kids in the Cairo neighborhood of Al Darb Al Ahmar as a means of future employment, as well as Action for Hope – a convoy of performing artists and volunteers that work with crisis groups such as Syrian refugees in Lebanon by using performing arts as a source of entertainment, education and much-needed therapy.
An Ashoka fellow and recipient of the award, Azza AZZA KAMEL is the founder and director of Alwan we Awtar; an educational community centre that helps underprivileged children in the Mokkatam area of Cairo through experiential learning and art, teaching them self-expression and self-confidence, and rehabilitating them. The kids at Alwan we Awtar suffer from poverty, exclusion and inadequate education, so Azza’s work gives them a whole new lease on life. Many have gone on to work, travel, learn new languages and even come back to Alwan we Awtar to work as teachers to a new generation of kids.
SAIDA EL HARAKANY
(Photo courtesy of Saida El Harakany)
Saida El Harakany is the founder of Adsum Art Consultancy; the first art consulting and advisory firm of its kind in the Middle East. Saida works on bridging the gap between art buyers and the art market by sourcing artwork, curating collections and encouraging potential art buyers to purchase emerging and mid-career contemporary artists from the MENA region. Follow Adsum’s Facebook page for regular updates on the latest art exhibitions and events around Cairo.
LINA MOWAFY & DINA SHAABAN