Against Helplessness in the Arts

Articulating a frustration with the Egyptian arts communitymyself includedand possible reactions to events like the collapse of a portion of Townhouse Gallery.

The present reason for this silence is obvious, and serious: that speaking out can put people in danger, in particular those who are legally responsible for NGOs or who are authors of even marginally critical work. This, combined with the expense of venues and the lack of production money, drives us to make galleries, meetings, book launches and experimental music gatherings in private apartments. We retreat, and burrow in depression and parties. At times this does not feel too bad at all. Dropping a concern with institutional language or the bricks-and-mortar aspects of sustainability can be deeply liberating. There is a whole raft of art institutional discussion about scaling down to intimate encounters and combining private and interpersonal experience. But that alone is not an art scene, especially not when it is done under duress. What cannot be ignored is that we are part of the public sphere, and that we owe it to each other to remain so.

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