vrijdag 9 maart 2012

dinsdag 20 juli 2010



During the last 5 years close contacts have been developed by the Foundation
Arts iD Sudan between artists and intellectuals from Sudan and The Netherlands.
At a crossroad between Arabic and African cultures, Sudanese artists work within multiple social contexts, which point to a globalized cultural space. Dutch artists and curators working there and the Festival The Other Sudan last year in the Netherlands, have both created here in Holland an atmosphere of great curiosity and interest in cultural developments in Sudan.
The Khartoum Art Lab project aims to establish a platform for critical thinking and contemporary artistic practices: visual arts, performing arts, new media, music etc.
in Khartoum, Sudan, through
the set-up of an independent space for these practices and the organization of a series of international events related to those practices. We think about festivals, workshops, exhibitions, publications, a digital archive and a website…
Activities will take place both in The Netherlands and Sudan.

The project covers three main areas:
1. Educational: workshops, lectures, seminar, master-classes
2. Curatorial: exhibitions, screenings, presentations and artist-in-residencies
3. Research: set up of an archive dedicated to the documentation of contemporary practices and a library
4. Local development: interaction and sharing of skills and competences between international artist and local independent artists and producers.

First step in the development of the project will be a research phase in Khartoum.
Contacts will be made/ renewed with the Sudanese Artists Union, the Sudanese Writers Union, the Goethe Institute, French Cultural Centre, the University of Sudan, Ahfad Women University, National Theatre etc. and independent Sudanese specialist working within the domain of the project.
We will look for possible interactions with local partners, and a localization of a space for production of the first set up of workshops and lectures with international artists and producers which will take place the coming years.

The project will be developed by Mieke Kolk of Arts iD Sudan Foundation, by Pauline Burmann, specialist in Modern African Art and Lucrezia Cippitelli art historian specialized in new media.

Short cv of the proposing team:
Dr Mieke Kolk, Institute for Theatre Studies, UVA, Amsterdam has set up cultural exchange-projects with Egypt an Sudan since 2002, organized 4 intercultural conferences on Arabic/African Art and Theatre and edited its proceedings.
Last publication: Performing Gender in Arabic/African Theatre, Amsterdam/Khartoum 2009 She was director of the Festival: The Other Sudan, last fall in Holland.
Dr Pauline Burmann, advisor and curator, has been collaborating with individual artists and international art institutions. She is CAN ambassador, an initiative, a part of PUMA, a creative african network platform with global reach, connecting the creative world within and outside Africa. In the Netherlands she is Chairperson of the Thami Mnyele foundation, and connected with the Dutch Arica House and co-founder of ZAM magazine, cultural section.
Dr Lucrezia Cippitelli is curator, professor and visiting scholar at the Institute of Comparative Modernities of Cornell University (USA). She works on intermediality and art-practices at the intersection of new technologies and media, with a focus on Latin America and Africa. Collaborating with the Time_FRAMe platform she works in Salvador, Cuba, an independently in Ethiopia and Kenia.

zondag 18 juli 2010



Organizational background: Arts in Development Sudan

Since 2005 and the Comprehensive Peace Treaty between North and South Sudan, there has been developing cultural contacts between Sudan and The Netherlands. The College of Music and Drama at the University of Sudan in Khartoum and the Institute for Theatre Studies at the University of Amsterdam, led by coordinators Dr. Shams Eldin Younis and Dr. Mieke Kolk, respectively, have taken the lead on this relationship.
In 2005 this partnership held workshops in theatre as well as an international, intercultural “East meets West conference” on the theme of “Rituals and Ceremonies in Sudan,” and their influences on the theatre arts. A year later, a book of the papers presented were published in Amsterdam and distributed in Sudan.
The Dutch Ambassador in Sudan then also supported a regular exchange program between the two countries that started at the end of 2006. Cooperation with other institutions and groups was organized and new Khartoum participants were the dance group Orupaap of Stephen Ochalla and the Bugaa Theatre Troupe of Ali Mahdi. Contacts with Ahfad University were also established in this period. In The Netherlands, the Codarts Dance Academy in Rotterdam and the Amsterdam Music Conservatory and Theatre Academy participated by sending teachers and receiving staff as visitors.
After a series of workshops and a new conference on Gender-relations in Arabic/African Theatre, the program was renewed for another period lasting until the end of 2009 and a book of the related research was published in April 2009. Ten workshops were then organized for 200 young theatre and music students and young professionals in the field, including visual artists working together with the theatre-makers. Training concentrated on professional capacity building and training for forms of community theatre working in the field.
Since most of the activities in the program happened in Sudan, the Foundation for Arts in Development Sudan decided to organize a broad presentation of Sudanese artists to a Dutch audience. In the fall of 2009 an arts festival called The Other Sudan started with theatre performances from a group of Walid Alalphy of Darfur, the All Stars of Abdel Gadir Salim, the Zar-Mamas, who also performed in an academic hospital and a group of Khatoum’s wedding singers. There were also dancing and singing events with Nubian migrants to The Netherlands in front of the old Nubian temple at the Museum for Antiquities in Leiden where the Day advertising group also organized a beautiful small exhibition titled Memories from Home. Stephen Ochalla’s group of Southern Sudanese dancers and musicians worked together with Dutch dancers in Rotterdam and performed in Amsterdam. Emmanual Jal’s performances and the theme of child soldiers were another focus of the festival.
The festival was a big success in Holland and Arts Africa enjoyed the growing contacts with the Sudanese community, now at around 8,000 people. More information, photos, and reports on the festival can be found at the organization’s website, www.artsafrica.org.

Despite these successes, the Dutch Embassy has announced a stop to its cultural activities in north and central Sudan to concentrate on Southern Sudan and the Darfur region. The Foundation, however, will continue to support new initiatives by Sudanese theatre makers and organizers to develop cultural initiatives around the country.

Publishing Sudan’s books

In 2007 the prestigious Dutch foundation, the Prince Claus Fund, offered a reward to the Sudanese Writers Union for their activities and achievements in the field of literature. There, PCF staff met the then-president Mr. Muhammed Jalal Hashim, who later came to visit us in Holland. He told us that even as the president of this well-respected cultural organization, he had some five manuscripts lying unpublished for want of publishing opportunities. This is the case, staff came to learn, for most authors in Sudan.
Books of any kind are difficult to find, even in Khartoum, and far too expensive for average people. Libraries are scarce, poorly equipped, and available books hardly protected again theft. Students in Khartoum often say, “The one who lends book is an idiot, but the bigger idiot is the one who returns the book.” There is clearly a need for literature and other resources when texts are guarded so cautiously.

It must be clear to all of us that a society can not exist without cultural productions being seen and listened to, being shared and discussed. Stories, poems, essays and criticism function as sources of the past and the present, as stepping stones in the process of identity-formation, as basic in the intellectual discussions that form a nation.
From story-tellers, elderly members of the community, schools and the media, all persons and institutions protect and explain the art of the word as a necessary foundation of a culture. Being able to read books, to write books worth publishing, to print books – these activities make a difference, even more so in developing countries. This is too big a privilege for only the rich to posses.

We want to make books available to every person who wants to read.
We want to produce these books so cheaply that every reading person can afford them.
We want to offer the opportunity to be read to a diversity of Sudan’s exceptional writers.
We want to publish a series of books by Sudanese authors and share them with the communities abroad, speaking Arabic and/or English.

The proposed initiative for publishing Sudan’s books must be developed, for the whole of Sudan, creating the venue to share each other’s lives, experiences, values, emotions, wisdom, and ideas.

Administrative structure

Last spring was the first contact with members of the Sudanese Writers Union and The Agora Project, a new, youth-inspired initiative building a public library in Sudan. After a series of talks and meetings, a small group of people representing the Foundation, the Writers Union and The Agora Project came together as a Coordinating Committee to set up the project.
The Coordinating Committee believes that access to books is a basic right, and that books should be not stolen, as some of Sudan’s students find necessary, but should be given. The committee consists of

Dr. Ahmed A. Berair, translator, Sudanese Writers Union
Dr. Mieke Kolk, Arts in Development Sudan, University of Amsterdam
Mamoun Eltlib, journalist, The Agora Project
Amelia Charles, social entrepreneur, The Agora Project

donderdag 15 juli 2010


EAST MEETS WEST in Arabic/African Theatre Topics

Universities of Amsterdam, Tetouan, Cairo, Alexandria, Sudan e.a.
Academic Institutions in Rabat, Cairo, Damascus, Athens

Research-project/ roundtable:

Dramaturgical Models and Moments;
Post-Aristotelian Dramaturgy in East and West

Reading through 20th century drama texts from Egypt, Syria, Libanon, the Magreb-countries and the West-European countries on the other side of the Mediterranean, one becomes fascinated by a shared history in dramatic forms and experimentation with that form.

Drama-history the end of the 19th Century, both in East and West, shows the temporally overall adoption of the Aristotelian model, as it was developed in England and France into the Realistic model of the well-made play. Accepted broadly as the perfect drama and standard model, the Aristotelian formula was eventually and gradually subjected to undermining, critical interventions, which can now be called a series of deconstruction of the Classic model and its theories.

In his important study on the Theory of Modern Drama (1900-1956), German scholar Peter Szondi describes the different ways modern playwrights and dramaturges tried to solve the incompatibilities of the Aristotelian model, tailoring its components within new perspectives and actual problems, both in society and on stage.
In his theorizing of the how and why of European expressionistic drama, the epic drama, the meta-drama of Pirandello, running into Absurdism and (later) post-modern broken text-forms, Szondi’s analysis of the form/content tension seems an extremely fruitful framework to approach comparable developments in the drama-forms of the Eastern countries and its specific moments of historical crisis.
Different moments in the history of drama during the twentieth century, charged with communicating political and aesthetic experiences seem to diverge, providing the main ground on which West meets East in dramatic performance.

The aim of the research-project would be to write an integrated history of drama with clear examples of same-ness and differences. Together with a series of play-texts the project-group could offer a new anthology in an attempt to rewrite the sacred canon of the West via revisiting that of the East.