An island in the island

Ahmed, Esraa, and Osama, Cairo, Egypt, 2022

In such a complex landscape, where even the Mahraganat music (electronic version of popular Shaabi) is considered immoral and censored—in a place characterized by a strong tendency to diaspora of artists who migrate as soon as they can—foreign cultural centers are spaces of freedom, places to meet and engage with different perspectives. In this sense, there is an urgent need to decolonize our idea of cultural space too, experimenting with new, constructive forms of dialogue and creating opportunities to listen to the territory.

In order to get permission to enter schools and universities, it is necessary to wade through a rather mazy bureaucracy. Hence, we decided to meet the students at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Cairo: an autonomous group committed to meeting every afternoon, after class and without their teachers, to experiment the idea and praxis of a different school. On the terrace of the building located in Zamalek, in the northern part of the island of Gezira on the Nile, among the chaotic noises of the metropolis we imagined a public space in which art becomes a tool to activate the interaction between different subjects and where the interpersonal relationship substantiates the very definition of the city as a pedagogical space.