Dermis Perez Leon

2018

From : Berlin
To: Paris-Cairo

Building Bridges, curatorial research

Visual Arts

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How did this grant contribute to the realization of your project in regard to artistic exchange, local cultural development and/or the promotion of cultural diversity?

This grant has given me the opportunity to get in contact again with institutions, professionals and artists in Cairo and has contributed to the aims of my future projects in Europe and South America, whilst expanding my network with new actors in the Egyptian art scene and renewing a collaboration with others I had worked with previously. I have been interested in the production of images through video, installation and photography in the Middle East, before and after the uprising in 2011 specifically in Egypt. Meeting with potential partners for future projects and being inspired by the strong artworks made by Egyptian artists again have been pivotal in my decision of continuing to work with artists in the MENA area.

How does exchange, networking and international contacts contribute to the development of your artistic and cultural project?

Since 2008I, I have been working with and presenting artists in exhibitions and giving talks from the Middle East and North Africa area. Traveling for research and current information about artists, social and political backgrounds are essential to my work. It is very important to observe the place from where the artists produce the work. The internet is only useful for a first approach. I will use all the information from my visit to support and promote artists form the MENA area. In this occasion, through artist Khaled Hafez in Paris, an artist I have known since 2008 and curated his first exhibition in Madrid in 2009, I got in contact with Omar Donia, founder of the magazine Contemporary Practices (visual arts from the Middle East), with whom I visited Picasso gallery and Zamalek Art Gallery along with artists Habby Khalil and Romany Hafez . As a result of our meeting, we are now preparing and organizing an exhibition with artists from Middle East to present in Santiago of Chile for the first semester of 2019. My meeting with the director Mohamed Allam of Medrar for Contemporary Art and the whole staff Gilan Hefny and Dia Hamed was part of my agenda, but not only that. I have interest about exchanging ideas about my curatorial work and collaborating together with organizations and nonprofit institutions dedicated to support local artists. I visited the Town House and talked with the staff. Through Medrar, I got in contact with the mentors of the new residency program that they have opened last February for young artists. Artist Mohamed Abdelkarim with who I had worked and presented his work at the VIDEOAKT Biennale in Barcelona and Berlin, and Nour El Safoury, a young critic, researcher and writer recently graduated in the USA, organized Roznama Studio Program. The reunions with both of them had been crucial in this trip. Roznama offers a studio for almost a year to young Egyptian artists, helping them to produce their work and inviting other art professionals to exchange ideas with the artists. Both mentors provided me with a list of new artists with whom I had meetings for three days. I have done a curatorial critique and personal advice to artists: Marwa Benhalim, Yasmin El Melegy, Mohamed Allam and Islam Shabana Another significant meeting was with an adviser in the Ministry of Culture. We discussed about their activities, the Cairo Biennale, and primarily about supporting Egyptian artists to get visibility outside the country. In such a short visit, I also got in contact with the Goethe Institut,

Can you elaborate on the learning and knowledge you have gained and shared throughout this experience?

All the meetings provided me with a greater understanding of how in Cairo the nonprofit spaces and artists are trying to develop a work outside the support of governmental institutions. Despite the fact that the context is difficult, artists are ahead of institutions and they are working a great deal to make their work visible here in Egypt and worldwide. They are developing platforms of alternative exchanges with foundations, art residencies, and educational programs abroad that allow artists to get better information and contacts. The few art organizations are working properly. However, questions about the conditions of exchange and difficulties concerning mobility programs were raised. How can we provide support to artists and projects between countries from the MENAR area and beyond? How can cultural workers and professionals help to build a strong network of exchange without the given limitations? Furthermore, it has been a great experience to observe that the art produced here is deeply intertwined with the social and critical political context. I have really been inspired by the artists and their commitment to share their histories and experiences. Being a writer, art critic and curator from Cuba, it has helped me to fully understand these connections and why my genuine interest in making bridges between the art made here and Latin America increases each day.

Please indicate a link to your current work (website/facebook page)

https://www.facebook.com/lookingforyoudermis
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1006348186214121&set=a.349640598551553&type=3&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1752218994876930&set=a.788647401234099&type=3&theater
https://www.fountainheadresidency.com/artists/2017/3/19/dermis-leon




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