About the Project

Theme: Spaces of Expression

Our project, is about spaces: physical and metaphorical spaces of expression and cultural dialogue. We are working hands on with Gudran on starting their new project in cooperation with ‘Behna Films’ to create a new space for filmmaking, visual arts and displaying a forgotten part of Egyptian cinema heritage in Alexandria. Metaphorical spaces of expression are explored for informal activities, roundtable discussions, dance, theater and other collaborative workshops.

This project falls under CISV‘s International People’s Project Programme (IPP), a work camp that brings together adult volunteers from 8-12 different countries to work on a local project with a partner organisation and explore a specific theme in local and global contexts. This is CISV Egypt’s fourth IPP, after a series of three IPPs in Farafra Oasis, and its the first one to be hosted in Alexandria.

Project objectives:

  • Restore a space for audio-visual artists that is affordable, accessible and adheres to the surrounding needs
  • Create dialogue between international volunteers and local community through working on the Behna project and collaborative workshops
  • Engage a wider community in various artistic processes by bringing art to those who don’t traditionally have access to it
  • Explore themes relating to heritage in an intercultural context by using the local Alexandrian surrounding as a tangible example

Project Details:

  • Date: 27 December – 18 January
  • Participants: 22 Participants and 5 Staff Members
  • Countries: Egypt, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Colombia, Brazil/Canada, Australia/China, USA, Great Britain, Finland and Norway

The Bahna Apartment in Alexandria

Hands-on Project

Gudran have a history of turning run-down areas in Alexandria into art hubs. Past projects include transforming a warehouse into a gallery space and an air-conditioning unit into a space for musical and literary arts. Their models are successful because they rely on volunteers, artists and members of the community to restore and manage them upon completion, ensuring sustainability and harmony between projects.

Currently, they are working on restoring an 12-room massive apartment with the aim to turn it into a space for audio-visual arts. The apartment us owned by Behna Films, one of Egypt’s oldest production companies. Between 1932-1962, Behna was the biggest cinema distributor in the Middle East with offices across the region. After restoration, rooms will be used as screening halls, editing rooms and workshop venues while others will be prepared to archive cinematic heritage, and exhibit audio visual and performative projects.

The chief purpose is to create a space for independent filmmakers to learn about cinematography and its history. The apartment is a platform where artists from various disciplines from across the region can collaborate, with a focus on film to maintain the identity of the apartment.

During the IPP, we spend our days working on restoring the apartment through scraping, sanding the walls, plastering windows and doors, and several rounds of cleaning to get rid of 50 year old dust. At the end of the IPP we managed to finish 7 rooms and the hallways (when the original plan was to only finish two rooms) and hosted a soft-opening event.

The Bahna Apartment in Alexandria

Educational Content

We aim to challenge our thoughts about self expression and ways in which it can be exercised to gain a local and global understanding of the theme ‘Spaces of Expression’. As a group, we will plan activities to explore art, development, heritage, censorship and their relation to one another throughout camp.  Activities will also tackle barriers to self expression, commercialization of film, alternative spaces of expression (physical and nonphysical) and impact of social change on artists and vice versa.

On a more practical note, we envision to use our physical space and time together during these weeks, to have discussions, plan activities and run workshops on the theme. We also plan to have workshops run by external facilitators who are experts in their fields to push our boundaries on expression whether through dance, theater, painting and others. Some of these will be just for our group, others will include the Partner Organisation volunteers and local community.

A very important component of IPP is the research you guys will do with your delegation on the application of our theme in your countries. After your research, you guys will have to plan a cultural activity based on your research which should take about 1.5-2 hours to run with the group. We have a projector, speakers, art supplies and basic stationery. If you need any other materials please let us know in advance.

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