What is the role of contemporary art in modern societies? What is the relationship between contemporary art and other fields of humanities? These questions were the starting point behind the launch of the online platform Territory Crossings in 2014.
Pro Helvetia Cairo has been examining these questions in many of its projects from exhibitions to book launches and roundtable discussions. But in 2014, the Swiss Arts Council in Cairo decided to explore a new medium through which to create an exchange between Egyptian and Swiss contemporary art.
The first edition which lasted for six months was curated by Swiss curator and art historian Markus Stegmann and Egyptian visual artist Hamdi Attia and tackled the subject art in public spaces in both countries. In this edition, selected artists and writers were invited to reflect on aspects of how public space functions in society at large, and on how these aspects are addressed in their own practices. Performative walkings through the city of Basel, gender issues in the graffiti of the Egyptian revolution, the politics of art, artists and art institutions, as well as the social and artistic relationship between residents and artists are examples of the topics covered in this edition through texts and artworks.
Theatre-making was the focus of the second edition of Territory Crossings, with Swiss dramaturg Erik Altorfer and Egyptian critic Ehab Elmallah curating articles, and launching an artists’ blog that was regularly fed with contributions from theater makers from both countries. The yearlong edition featured articles about the structures and circumstances of theatre production in Egypt and Switzerland as well as samples of Swiss plays in the form of videos, pictures and translated excerpts of the plays. The issues and challenges facing theatre-making in both countries, the purpose of theatre, and how cultural exchange could benefit from the practice in both countries were presented through the eyes of a number of theatre artists actively engaged in a roundtable discussion on the topic.
Launched in Autumn 2016, the third edition of Territory Crossings examines the contemporary literary landscape in both Egypt and Switzerland. From books recommended for translation, to interviews with young authors, reviews of selected titles, issues of translation, publishing and the role of literature in society, coverage of literary events and workshops from both countries, this edition is curated by Eva Stensrud from Pro Helvetia Zurich and Egyptian critic Ehab Elmallah.