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Taking Stock examines Egypt's cultural scene

The exhibition Taking Stock shows the results of an artistic research project that took place from January to March 2020 in Cairo, Egypt. The project is a response to the closure of the Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art. The closure prompted an examination of a series of events in central Cairo and Egypt's cultural scene. Taking Stock is... 

Alaa al Aswani: 'Literature doesn't change politics, it changes people'

Four years ago at the Winternachten Festival in The Hague, we spoke about it with Egyptian writer Alaa al Aswani, who was disarmingly upbeat despite the fact that he can barely publish in his own country. On lack of freedom of expression and fiction in times of fake, this year's theme, Al Aswani could have a word. 'Freedom of expression is even worse now than under dictator Mubarak.'

Love & Revenge aims to reshape the Arab world

You take film classics like Dracula and Star Wars, track down their Arabic remakes, and edit these fragments on a live soundtrack that fuses Arabic pop history with electronic music of today. This, in short, is the recipe of the dynamic collaboration between musician Rayes Bek and video artist Randa Mirza, better known as Love & Revenge. With their compelling show,... 

European Cultural Foundation seeks new imagination on anniversary.

'Nothing can make up for the past. But the real, enduring power of the past lies in how it affects our present and our future. What we can do is shape a future history in which we consciously and determinedly carry with us only the best of our past.' Not keep rooting, but cognitive behavioural therapy for the whole of Europe, you might... 

With the Drents Museum back in time to forgotten Nubia- Land of the Black Pharaohs

When one thinks of pharaohs, one quickly thinks of Egypt, the land of pyramids and the Nile. However, south of Egypt - in the Nile region of present-day Sudan - kings and pharaohs also ruled. This area was called Nubia. For a long time, this culture and society was portrayed as a colony of Egypt. Unjustly so. The new exhibition Nubia- Land of the... 

Composer Victoria Borisova-Ollas: 'Music has no nationality'

The most recent achievement of Russian-Swedish composer Victoria Borisova-Ollas (b. 1969) is Dracula. This opera based on Bram Stoker's book of the same name premiered at Royal Opera Stockholm in October 2017. A 'colourful and highly atmospheric musical score', it included 'one of the most emotional scenes in the history of Swedish opera', wrote one critic. Seven years earlier,... 

Suddenly feeling the urgency at Dancing on the Edge

As soon as I, as an art consumer, begin to suspect arbitrariness in the artist or his creative process, I drop out. Incidentally, this observation now surprises me. After all, I am no fetishist of form, nor am I a canon junkie, and I am not qualified in any of the standard artistic disciplines. Not a composer, not a performing musician and not an actor. Neither filmmaker nor director, nor a lyricist graduate.... 

Jeroen van Merwijk behind the window of Kunstruimte Kuub in Utrecht. Photo: Wijbrand Schaap

Why Jeroen van Merwijk likes to welcome you to his studio: 'Being a cabaret artist is not a profession.'

'Everyone has an Apple. Everyone has a Corneille. Nobody has a Van Merwijk. So the question is whether Van Merwijk is any good. Nobody knows that. Then the challenge is for a few great people to buy a Van Merwijk. After that, everyone wants to have a Van Merwijk. When that happens, I'll go back to making other work, because I want... 

Wilbur Smith: 'Everything I touch turns to gold and crystal'

More than 120 million books have sold bestselling author Wilbur Smith - two thousand Wembley stadiums full. His steady recipe - violence, magic, mystery, adventure, hunting and sex - has kept his readership enthralled for more than half a century. To keep his output high, he has recently started working with co-authors. Only the 'Egypt novels', which include his new book Pharaoh, he writes himself.... 

Hippos on a temple wall

In Leiden, ancient Egypt feels pretty close

As a boy, I loved visiting the Egyptian department of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden. Half in the twilight, the mysterious mummy coffins there stared at me. We are now several decades and exhibits further on. Since this week, the newest Egypt display has been open. Even in brilliant light, the collection appears to retain its fascinating power. At the same time, the museum tells in Queens... 

'Theatre of the World' (2): an island that remains distant. #hf16

Maarten Baanders saw an opera that remained an island. An omnivore was Athanasius Kircher (1602 - 1680). No phenomenon in the universe could escape his urge to investigate. A universal scholar he was, but also a fantasist. Hence, he did not count in science. But for a grotesque opera, you can hardly imagine a more attractive protagonist. Louis... 

Louis Andriessen: 'I've never found a new sound'

For Theatre of the World, zijn vijfde avondvullende opera, liet Louis Andriessen (1939) zich inspireren door de Jezuïtische wetenschapper Athanasius Kircher (1601-1680). Hij was de laatste renaissance-man, iemand die alles kon en alles wist. Kircher schreef boeken vol over de meest uiteenlopende onderwerpen, van de betekenis van hiëroglyfen tot vulkanologie en muziekinstrumenten aan toe. Hij ontwierp zelfs een kattenpiano, vanuit de gedachte dat elke kat op een andere toonhoogte gilt als je op zijn staart trapt. Na zijn dood raakte Kircher als charlatan in diskrediet.

Onbruikbaar voor de wetenschap vormt hij echter gefundenes Fressen voor een componist als Andriessen, die graag de grenzen opzoekt tussen realiteit en fictie. Zijn opera Writing to Vermeer (1999) is gebaseerd op fictieve brieven aan de Delftse schilder; Rosa, a Horse Drama (1994) gaat over de moord op een componist, die onderdeel zou vormen van een samenzwering tegen de muziek.

Voices Outside The Echo Chamber: we need exhibitions like this

An exhibition that puts our view of migration and migrants at the centre, critical of our migration policy but does not fall into easy pamphleteering, that is "Voices outside the echo chamber". On Friday 29 April, the exhibition "Voices outside the echo chamber"-an exhibition by Framer Framed, the Amsterdam-based organisation that has been questioning and commenting on the visual language in our arts for years-opened at the Tolhuistuin. After all,... 

Winternachten gives audience a bigger voice

International literary festival Winternachten wants to involve the public more in its programmes next year. 'Audiences increasingly want to have a say,' says director Ton van de Langkruis. 'That can be done in all kinds of ways, we are now brooding on that.' Winternachten attracted some 7300 visitors this year, equalling last year's attendance. Last edition's theme was 'Hello Darkness', and... 

Winternachten: a fascinating and amusing evening of talking about Evil #wu16

Literature is not a means to bring about political change, but to change people. That is exactly what he aims for with his books, Egyptian writer Alaa al Aswani said yesterday at Winternachten, where his new novel The Automobile Club of Cairo was presented. That is probably how visitors to the literary festival at the end of the evening also came to... 

Greeks at Rijksmuseum of Antiquities, photo Mike Bink

Mere masterpieces at reopened National Museum of Antiquities

The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (RMO) in Leiden reopens on Tuesday 15 December after a major renovation and asbestos remediation. The museum immediately unpacks with a completely revamped Classics department: Greeks, Romans and Etruscans. There are also three small temporary exhibitions. Anyone entering the hall of the museum will not immediately notice any difference: fortunately, the Egyptian Taffeta temple is still just standing on... 

imen smaoui

Dancing on the Edge pulls you onto the stage. Literally.

No war scares or torturous refugee issues tonight 5 November, but getting unexpectedly intimate on stage with a strange woman. That could happen to you during Dancing on the Edge. The congenial, biennial festival featuring artists from the Middle East and North Africa can be seen in several cities until 14 November. Once started by race entrepreneur and dancer Gary Feingold, the... 

Dancing on the Edge festival started with a sense of urgency.

At Amsterdam's Brakke Grond, the Dancing on the Edge festival (DOTE) opened yesterday with an evening that immediately showed what the span is all about. The first performance, Blank, engaged directly with the audience. The second, and official opening performance, Plastic, was more about the dynamics between the performers themselves and with the soundscape. With her opening speech 

The Impact of Art, fierce conclusion to three-day conference

How can you write about a three-day conference, part of which took place behind closed doors, the closing night of which looks very neat on vimeo, but where the tension in the room was palpable? With a completely open mind and not much more background than an average newspaper reader, but with a firm belief in the power of the arts,... 

The great stories of Genesis: Johan Doesburg's farewell at the National Theatre

Adam and Eve. Noah. Babel. Joseph. An entire book of the Bible Johan Doesburg casts in his farewell performance with the Nationale Toneel. 'Genesis' lasts 6 hours including intermissions, has 65 speaking characters and plays with the space of Scheveningen's Zuiderstrandtheater. But above all, the outgoing director wants it to tell two stories. In conversation with Johan Doesburg and actor Dries Vanhegen, whose character Jacob plays a special role in the play.

Joop Daalmeijer Marathon (7): 'If the knowledge is lost, so is the heritage.'

Wijbrand Schaap: 'Just one more point. Then we're almost through.' Joop Daalmeijer: 'Continue quietly, we have until half past five.' Wijbrand Schaap: 'We have a problem with real estate. A lot of inner cities are empty. Shop premises are empty, downtown office buildings are unrentable. What do the municipalities say? Put artists in them. Cost nothing, because for free rent they do... 

Struggling River of Fundament - grandiose recycling opera that doesn't know when to stop

From 2007, video artist Matthew Barney (The Cremaster Cycle) and composer Jonathan Bepler on a free adaptation of Norman Mailer's most maligned book Ancient Evenings. To Mailer's mythology of ancient Egypt, they added the equally mythical American automobile industry in an ambitious and operatesque film project with a demanding length of 5 hours 11 minutes.

From February River of Fundament on world tour and the Holland Festival

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