Art can be a bit hard to find. With the lack of substantial art museums and the fact that most galleries tend to be in one neighbourhood only, art is not readily accessible for most people. During the past few years, graffiti has been all over the place, but this is slowly starting to change; people have become more diligent about erasing street art. Also, traffic makes one even more reluctant to go out.
Enter Zambalita, a magazine dedicated only to art. Flipping through Zambalita, which is now an online magazine, is like walking through a contemporary art exhibition. We spoke to Hatem Soliman, the founder of Zambalita for more information.
To begin with the name is a bit interesting, since it is Egyptian slang. “We made a huge brainstorming [session] to find a name for the magazine. The phrase Zambalita fe el saloon (Noise in the salon ) is a popular Egyptian phrase that means we need to make noise. So, the magazine was named Zambalita since we needed to make noise about our artwork,” Soliman explained.
“It all happened in 2011 after the 25 January revolution; I was a follower of many online visual art magazines like Revolution Art and Bastard. I thought why don’t we have something like that in Egypt? We have many amazing artists in all art fields. I called two of my friends, Mostafa Abdel Halim and Summer Azmi, and told them about the idea, and they liked it,” Soliman said.
The magazine did not start out as online only. “We decided that the magazine must be printed to be more powerful. However, as we started working we were shocked by the cost of printing a regular 60-page magazine. Since we did not have enough money for all that, we decided to only make it a 16-page magazine, hoping that in time it could develop into a bigger one,” Soliman explained.
Despite the promising nature of the project, Soliman and his partners faced many challenges that threatened the project. “We printed issue 0 with amazing cover art by Mohamed Fathy (SHANK), then issue 1 with cover art by Amro Thabit, and issue 3 with cover art by Kahled Zohny. However, we ran out of money and after many attempts to get funds from a sponsor or from any organisation that cares about art, we came up with nothing,” Soliman said. The problems forced them to halt the project altogether.
“In 2013 I decide to bring Zambalita back by making it online to avoid the cost of printing,” Soliman explained. He teamed up with his old partners. Despite their busy lives and the fact that two years had passed since cessation, they were still able to help. Soliman started working on the new issue with the support of some additional friends: “I got help from many friends; Moustafa, Andrew, Angie, and Saeed”.
So, what does Soliman want to achieve from the project? “We want to get our Egyptian modern art outside to people to show them that we got amazing and talented local artists here,” Soliman explained.
The Zambalita team will continue to publish their magazine online, hoping that one day they will find funding to turn it into a printed publication again. Currently they accept artistic submissions from Egyptian artists and more information about this and the magazine can be found on their Facebook page.