Intersectional fora bringing together progressive Arab cultural groups in Europe Back

Intersectional fora bringing together progressive Arab cultural groups in Europe

In our series of interviews with Culture of Solidarity Fund grantees, here’s our exchange with Mophradat on their collective retreats.

As in all our interviews, can you tell our readers who you are?
Mophradat is an international multi-disciplinary arts organisation, that creates opportunities and invents possibilities for artists from the Arab world. Over the past three years, we have recognised the urgent need to bring together artists, curators, and art institutions that share progressive socio-political values for their practices and communities, and to make that a collective voice that is distinct and heard. We aspire for our way of working to be imaginative and ambitious, inclusive and hospitable.

What made you think of the project?
In the current crisis, the disadvantaged newcomer communities of Arabs in Europe and their peers across the Mediterranean face even harsher conditions due to further deterioration of rights, acute rise of surveillance, compounded discrimination, financial meltdown and institutional dysfunction, along with the consequences of the anxiety created by an unprecedented violent confinement. Inventing alternative working models is critical now to these groups as reliance on conventional institutions becomes futile. Anticipating the longer-term impact of the crisis, Mophradat’s series of collective retreats as intersectional fora for exchange bring together progressive Arab cultural groups in Europe with like-minded peers from across cultural fields to develop intellectual and practical means of mutual support.

Sarah Abu Abdallah’s tarot reading at Accomplices, Delphi Annex of the Athens School of Fine Arts, 2019. Photo by Jasmina Metwaly.

What will your project contribute to Europe, post-corona? 
The project invites progressive Arab groups working in culture from all across Europe alongside their European peers, solidifying cross-border alliances between progressive Arab and local arts initiatives and professionals in Europe. It seeks to provide a unique situation where groups can respond to the current precariousness by stepping out of the competition to react and prioritising enriching the quality of their relationships within their groups, with peers, and across lines of shared stakes. Shunning the push for immediate results, the retreats favor committed processes to ensure that we can invent new practices and alliances rather than go back to “business as usual.” The project overall aims to use the crisis to jumpstart the process of to re-establishing working connections, recuperating, and inventing forms and protocols which take advantage of the current rupture in prevailing paradigms to experiment with alternative organising methods.

How do you envision it to grow from local to pan European? 
In the years succeeding the Arab Spring in 2011, there has been an unprecedented migration flux from the Arab world to Europe and have been actively getting to know and supporting the now very rich and international network of Arab artists and arts groups in Europe. Although the retreats will primarily focus on Arab groups, the program will draw on the specificity of their situation to invent counter-normative strategies that can empower an expanded community. Taking into account that, from a post-colonial gaze, today’s pan-European solidarity can’t be understood as a monolithic idea, our project proposes a wide alliance between groups of people and initiatives leading a progressive, anti-patriarchal, egalitarian, non-normative, feminist twist for a new pan-European solidarity: one that questions existing oppressions and comes out with the vanguard thinking of a new culture for Europe.

How does your project help to make Europe an open and shared public space for everyone? 
The crisis has magnified the deep polarisation across Europe and highlighted the disparities between nation states but also between communities, classes, age groups, among others. Some of the values that need to be revisited are those rooted in Europe’s humanist tradition, which have now fully clashed with our neo-liberal present. Arab arts groups will come together with other European peers to share room and seek respite in an interdisciplinary gathering space in Athens that is non-transactional and empathetic. The collective retreats will revolve around finding ways to re-organise the prevailing hierarchy of resources, wherein sharing, in-kind collaboration and knowledge exchange, and generosity, become central to cultural work, and where those with shared concerns can find ways of working that embody greater equality and inclusion.

Granted: 29950 euros