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Swinging provides art with your coffee

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Kafein works well as a coffee shop and it does just as well with small exhibitions

The photographs in Swinging engage and entertain (Photo from Kafein Facebook page)

The photographs in Swinging engage and entertain
(Photo from Kafein Facebook page)

Kafein’s main focus is on providing a place in Downtown that serves quality tea and coffee in an effort to promote this culture in Cairo. However, the place also doubles as a small gallery of sorts.

We went to check out the exhibition Swinging by Dina Shoukry and found it pulls off its artistic goals as well as it does its coffee and tea.

Kafein is pretty small but makes extremely good use of its space; it feels cozy and open despite its size, and does its best to make the photographs visible to everyone. Its white walls offer a clean canvas for displaying art and Shoukry’s photographs were placed in the most prominent places. Located right next to another café/gallery, Kunst, the two could not be more different. Kafein’s exhibition is hard to miss, with captions explaining many of the pictures, whereas you can go into Kunst and not notice that anything is on display.

Shoukry’s exhibition deals with moments of play in the lives of children from different parts of India. The photographs were taken in 2009 and 2010 while the artist was running workshops for children on how to create art from recycled items.

The photographs feature candid shots of the children playing on the only toy available to them: a swing set made out of an old tire. The shots all have a similar colour scheme and capture the innocence and mischief of children perfectly. Below the images are captions conveying information that ranges from emotional stories to statistics and facts aimed at raising awareness.

Frustratingly, there was no information available on the artist herself in any of the descriptions; however, the owners of Kafein were pretty helpful and hands-on with answering questions about the pictures. Shoukry is a visual artist and photographer based in Cairo, whose work focuses on capturing the playfulness of children. She has been travelling around the world since 2009 to conduct workshops for children and has worked in Egypt on similar themes. Her work in Egypt includes children from the Max Fisherman village in Alexandria, children from Moqattam, Nuba and other places in the country.

The works on display in Kafein were taken on a trip that was supported by Oxfam Australia and as soon as you walk in, there are statistics from UNICEF on the vulnerability of children and captions on some of their moving journeys. The photographs at the exhibition are for sale and prices range from EGP 500 to EGP 1,000, depending on size. Prints are readily available at Kafein should you wish to make a purchase after you sip your morning coffee.

The exhibition will be on display at the café/gallery until mid-May.


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