Saturday, January 16, 2010

art + artists

This picture was taken at Amr Ibn el-Aas mosque in Old Cairo, the oldest mosque in all of Africa, first mosque in Egypt, a mosque that plays a central role in our project. I took this picture yesterday.

Three years ago, my first time in Cairo, I met some amazing people through art with whom I have stayed in touch and developed amazing friendships with, and we have gotten to watch each other develop and grow personally and creatively, for which I am very grateful. Being with them again is really inspiring and head clearing.

Shortly after that trip is when the seeds for this project began to sprout and after having searched for other artists in Cairo, I came upon several that were quite established and inspiring, one of whom I met for the first time in person today. The story goes like this...I was applying for the Fulbright with this project in its audio/installation phase and was looking for inspiration and help. I was looking for someone to write me a letter of affiliation, but not just any letter, I wanted someone AMAZING!!! and through this a great friendship developed between myself and Khaled Hafez ( When Director Miguel Silveira and Line Producer Jeremy Johnson and I were here in August, I was super excited to meet Khaled and see his work in person. Turned out that right when we would be here, in Cairo, he would be there, in the US, at an artists residency!!! Of course! So, today...TODAY!!! we finally met. I saw his work in person, I saw his videos, I met his friends and colleagues, we listened to music, talked about art, laughed, talked shit, and discussed life and what really matters to us as humans, as artists, as international collaborators, as creators!!! after seeing his studio and the energy there and his work and the work of Ahmed el Shaer ( a great idea was born - to curate a Cairene film/video art screening in Chicago. It will be a brilliant brilliant fiasco! I cant wait.

Khaled and I discussed my filming in his studio and will insha'Allah make it happen on Monday. I really am so happy to finally meet him and to work with him. I hope to come back to Cairo soon and live and work here and be able to collaborate creatively in real time for a long period of time with Khaled as our work is also quite connected, check out my paintings to see why (

After leaving Khaled's studio, I filmed a little bit in Said Aisha (where Hassan's mosque, Sultan al-Ghuri, the trailer to see who he is!!! at sunset, then I headed over to this great place downtown, Kunst Gallery Cafe, from where I posted last time and where I can sit and enjoy coffee, music, cigarettes and work while having a great time. On the way here, I heard the 'Isha adhan and as I got closer to the cafe, I heard one deep, robust, rich and creamy voice from around the area...I have been searching for a mosque deep within the labyrinth of this city that is just inside of an alley or a small street, not gorgeous or ugly, just something that is necessary, and I hadnt yet found anything because I either get stopped and then I engage in conversation, or because I have been too busy running around getting footage and meeting with people, or because my lack of Arabic prevents me from being successful in landing an interview or even an audio recording, because I vowed to also work on the audio portion of the project while here. Today, though, I think I was so inspired that I didn't care.

So, I followed the voice. First, down one alley, then another, past some shops and finally across the way from a small cafe where people smoke sheesha (hookah tobacco) and drink shai (tea) and qahwah (coffee) from small glass cups while sitting in wooden chairs, I saw some shoes, and then people taking their shoes off and going in to a fluorescent lit space. Upon gazing inside, it was definitely a mosque and it was just what I had been looking for. I asked some men sitting at the cafe, in my really broken Arabic, what the name of the muezzin was and finally one of them asked me in English what it was that I needed! ehehe. I told him, he asked someone else, and so on...then he asked me why, and told me I could just go in and pray and meet him. Youre asking yourself...Anna, why are you not filming this? well, the answer is..because I was out of space on the CF card and also because I do not want to sacrifice a relationship with a muezzin by gathering content on the fist meeting, especially when I don't speak the language and dont know when I am inappropriate because I can't understand whats being said!

So, the sweet stout moustached man went inside to pray and came out with the muezzin after!!! none of us really understood one another, but the muezzin, Gamal Idin Sayed immediately asked me for a mic, and he first played an adhan from Medinah on someone else's cell phone and held it up to the microphone, and then....then...then he faced Mecca and performed the adhan into the mic. He was super sweet, older, wonderful, and really giving. He has 23 grandchildren. 23!!! we laughed so much. Alhamduill'Allah I understand numbers! and he has 11 children, 9 daughters and 2 sons. He has been calling people to pray for 30 years!!! This man amazed me a lot, I really look forward to meeting with him again and filming because his story is kind of amazing, I mean, he doesnt only call at this mosque, the Taqwa mosque, but also at other mosques throughout Cairo. He performs the 'Asr adhan and 'Isha adhan here and the other three at three other mosques. EVERY DAY!!!! I love him.

Yesterday was also amazing. So much happened that will propel this trip in the right direction and hopefully the whole project! I want to tell you everything about yesterday, but if I do, you will be reading a long long book and I will never get to sleep or see my friends or transfer video, upload photos and sound and marry the GPS data with the footage and photos and audio. Yeah, I know, who cares, just tell us everything Anna...ha!

Can't wait to be here with the whole team. It will be really amazing to see what magic happens when we are all together!

ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHT (c) Anna Kipervaser, On Look Films, LLC
All Rights Reserved 2010

1 comment:

Lynne Jordan said...

wow. You are amazing to even be doing this. You're the real deal sister - living life and having these wonderful encounters with people of the world. sigh... keep it coming!

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