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City Shadows: a toolkit on how to transform abandoned spaces through the arts
Villa Fernand on Abdel Salam Aref street stands amongst Port Said’s neglected cultural heritage. The building behind Villa Fernand was a colorful old building that is now in the process of demolition. An open and empty space behind these two structures stood idle and unused with the exception of hosting trash. This was the space chosen for the City Shadows event, part of a creative action research with the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) to explore the ways abandoned spaces in cities can be revived through art. In a short time-frame, this discreetly hidden space in Port Said was cleaned-up, revamped and transformed. The exhibition revolved around Port Said’s popular culture and how the citizens are entangled in their city’s heritage and history. With the support of Artistic Consultant Rana El Nemr, curator and visual artist Nadia Mounier brought the space back to life through old and new photos, video installations and collectibles from Port Said. Audiences were invited in and free to move around as they wish, slowly discovering items such as the paper crafts by artist Nervan Talha. Curators and musicians Nancy Mounir and Omar Mostafa flooded the space with experimental music tracks that faintly spread to the neighbouring streets. For many of the over 300 Port Said residents that attended, it was their first time to hear that Villa Fernand even existed. As a lead up to the event, the group from Port Said Ala Adeemo designed walking and bike tours around the city to take people around significant cultural and historical places including those that have been abandoned.
This event was developed to support in the creation of a Do-it-Yourself toolkit on how to revive abandoned spaces and redirect their use towards artistic learning and expression, developed by Shaimaa Atef. The research has been supported by the European Cultural Foundation and was initiated during the 2015 Idea Camp. The event is developed in partnership with the Drosos Foundation under the umbrella of the Access to Arts/Shababeek program with Mahatat for contemporary art.
Check out the toolkit here: https://issuu.com/mahatat/docs/toolkit_en._final_issuu
Rana El Nemr (Artistic Consultant), Nadia Mounir (Visual Artist & Curator), Nancy Mounir (Musician), Omar Moustafa (Musician), Nirvan Taha (Origami artist)
Drosos Foundation, European Cultural Foundation (ECF)