A new exhibition in Cairo, Women of Egypt, explores their struggles, strength and hopes. Sponsored by UN Women, CARE and the United Nations Information Center (UNIC), it is part of a national campaign, called 16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence Against Women.
The exhibition opens to the public today but at an invitation-only event yesterday the artists met one another, thanks to Bolleka, a platform to bring artists together.
A platform to bring young artists together, Bolleka was established after the revolution by a group of eight people from six different countries.
“This is more than an exhibition, it is a cultural initiative,” said Giacomo Crescenzi, an Italian artist and coordinator at Bolleka. “Bolleka organises the artists as a community. The preparatory works started over the summer where 60 portfolios were submitted aiming at the theme of women in Egypt. We chose 10 paintings from 10 different artists in Egypt and 30 photographs from 10 photographers as well. When we finished the selection process in mid-October, we had paintings that were a mix of different styles such as acrylic, oil, ink and pencil.”
“In terms of photos, they are all digital and they cover women in different ages and from different backgrounds and neglected demographics such as the blind, for example. Some of the paintings show women struggling against society, some show women rising up above Egypt with the Egyptian flag,” he said. “This was the first time they [met] and they received a special award from the sponsoring bodies.”
“Every artist has their own portfolio and a different subject,” said Marwa Morgan, a photographer whose work is featured in the exhibition. “Mine is about the blind women of El Nour Wal Amal. These women have jobs just like everyone and do not wait for anyone to help them. They do textiles and carpets and the like. There is an idea that you have to stand up for your rights and take them, instead of waiting for someone to give them to you.”
The exhibition will only be open for four days until 30 November, but there are plans to put the works online or plan other exhibitions for them. “We might show them in other places in the world or in other venues in Cairo or even put them on the web so people can see them but these are indefinite plans and we are still discussing,” said Crescezi.