In the midst of historic Old Cairo emerges a beating heart for contemporary art and culture in Egypt. Darb 1718 is an Egyptian non-profit organization founded in 2008. Its premises includes a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces that host different art mediums and cultural events.
Darb 1718 houses two art exhibition spaces, theater, dance and concert stages, outdoor cinema for independent film screenings, gardens and rooftops in addition to an artist residency to accommodate international artists and curators. The center provides workshops, programs and initiatives to educate and mentor emerging artists and offers them a space to exhibit their work alongside established artists.
It is a hub connecting Egyptian artists from several walks of life with the local and international art and culture scene. Darb 1718 is an art center and gathering point for all art events in Egypt. A wide stage for Cairo’s Contemporary Art Scene.
They endeavour to earn the loyalty and respect of artists, art institutions and the general public by promoting, in everything they do, a sense of excellence, originality and creativity that is universal and helps build links across cultural differences. By so doing, they are recognized and respected as one of the most energetic, credible and accessible institutions for the advancement of contemporary art in Egypt.
Their mission, first and foremost, is to cultivate the burgeoning contemporary art movement in Egypt. They do this while endeavouring to engage young Egyptian artists with more established local and international artists, all intermingling with the dynamic Fustat community. This mandate yields a broad and comprehensive artistic vision which embraces:
-Promoting the freedom of expression,
-Discovering young talented individuals who use various fields of artistic expression and introducing them to the local and international art scene,
-Encouraging largely unseen gifted local artists to exhibit their works alongside those of established regional and international artists,
-Providing local artists with opportunities for international exposure and cross-cultural exchanges,
-Providing spaces for live events (concerts, dance, open mic performances and theater productions),
-Implementing developmental programs that include workshops, discussions, films and other educational initiatives for adults and children,
-Providing art residency and workspace for artists and curators from around the world who are interested in learning about Egyptian culture,
-Educating the ordinary spectator about contemporary art by moving the art scene to unusual public spaces in the form of community events and street festivals,
-Promoting underground music and innovative art forms.
The Darb 1718 Contemporary Art and Culture Center seeks to encourage experimentation by supporting new works by emerging artists with particular attention to artistic merit, diversity of media and aesthetic traditions, along with originality of cultural influences.
Darb 1718 has a history inextricable from the rich history of Cairo itself. The narrative really begins in the seventh century when Fustat was chosen as the capital for a newly empowered nation. The city bourgeoned into the center of art and culture in the Middle East and Africa. This early success was met by a turbulent millennium and a half of war and peace; yet, the artists and craftsmen persevered through all hardships keeping the rich artistic heritage of the area alive. It is on this tradition that Darb 1718 aims to once again build an African/Arab cultural icon renowned the world over.
Darb 1718 was the brainchild of Egyptian visual artist and cultural activist Moataz Nasr. Moataz was an active participant in the 1977 Egyptian “Bread Revolution” of January 17th and 18th, during which he sustained a gunshot wound to the shoulder. Hence, Darb 1718 was conceived—the name being a pun on the Arabic words “to hit” and “path,” as Darb 1718 aspires to follow the path, i.e., the path to positive, lasting change in society through artistic and cultural enrichment.
Darb 1718 had to overcome large bureaucratic hurdles and continued supervision by the Egyptian Ministry of Social Affairs to formally establish itself as a non-profit NGO in December of 2008. Nestled behind the ancient ruins of Roman, Islamic, and Coptic civilizations, Darb 1718 is an alive and modern contemporary art space complete with two contemporary art galleries, two live performance stages, large outdoor cinema, workshop areas, roof lounge, and artist-in-residence studio and living space. By forming strong ties with local craftsmen; young Egyptian artists, intellectuals, and activists; and the rest of the world, Darb 1718 is maintaining a space founded on an otherwise unheard of artistic heritage yet in stride with rapidly changing technologies and media—firmly building a network along the currents of change sweeping the world and putting young Egyptian artists at the forefront.See more