We’re very pleased to announce the Art21 Blog’s newest column, Cairo in Context: Art and Change in the Middle East. Written by Ania Szremski, a researcher/writer and curator based in Cairo, the column launches at the end of the week marking the one-year anniversary of the Tahrir Square uprisings in Egypt. While many writers have been quick to celebrate the new creative freedoms and “revolutionary potential” of the art made during this period, Cairo in Context will reveal a more complicated reality. As Szremski points out in her first post, “critically robust cultural activity has been taking place in Egypt (and the broader region) since long before the fall of the Mubarak regime, and even long before the West first became interested in the region after 9/11.”
In the coming months, Szremski’s column will attempt to chart a course between, as she puts it, “uncritical celebrations of the utopian idea of ‘free expression’ in a post-Mubarak era…and sober admonitions that the visual arts don’t, or can’t, have a responsibility towards the current political context.” Throughout, she’ll ask readers to think about the importance and potential of art-making in Cairo and beyond at this moment in time.
Ania Szremski is an associate curator at the Townhouse, a non-profit contemporary art space in downtown Cairo, Egypt. She is also currently researching Egyptian art during the transition from socialism to free market capitalism on a Fulbright grant. Cairo in Context’s first post goes live later today, and the column will thereafter be published on the third Thursday of each month.