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Co-funded by the
Creative Europe Programme
of the European Union

From Past to Present: Euro-Mediterranean Cultural Insights

Final conference at Bozar – Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels, 25 October 2023

© Onassis Stegi

How can we deal with the complexities of Euro-Mediterranean cultural cooperation in a world marked by geopolitical tensions and post-colonial relationships? What are the contradictions in Mediterranean urban landscapes and the cities that we live in? How can artists and activists take position against the destruction of cultural heritage or, more globally, generate critical reflections and creations through nomadic residency formats across the Mediterranean?

These questions are just a few of those that were raised during a 38-month journey between artists, curators and art professionals. The collaborative efforts of 11 organizations gave shape to travelling exhibitions, workshops and art residencies in 8 cities, intertwining to shape the Creative Europe project ‘Alexandria: (re)activating common urban imaginaries’. As a wrap up session, we invite you to an afternoon full of conversations, lectures, a performance and networking moments.


14:30 – Welcome words and presentation of ‘Alexandria: (re)activating common urban imaginaries’ project

14:45 – Keynote by Christos Carras

© Andreas Simopoulos

Cultural collaboration between the European Union and its Mediterranean neighbors has always been a complex affair, inflected by both the cultural sector’s desire for exchange and the overall political, economic, and diplomatic context. The intervention will touch upon some key issues facing euro-Mediterranean cultural cooperation today. In today’s context of increased tensions and protectionism, what are the new barriers and challenges? What does cultural cooperation mean in an age of re-evaluation of post-colonial relationships? With all eyes turned towards the impressive investments in culture in the Gulf region, what attention is being paid to the Mediterranean?

15:05 – Lecture by Mohamed Adel Dessouki

© Mohamed Adel Dessouki

The fear of losing the city of Alexandria, Egypt, is deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of its residents and admirers around the world. The city has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout its history and has faced many threats, both natural and man-made and remains a city that is vulnerable to loss. This lecture focuses on the loss of Alexandria’s built heritage and the efforts of activists and grassroot groups who tried to save this heritage in the past decade.

15:25 – Lecture performance by Stella Ioannidou ‘The City and its Fictions’

© Stella Ioannidou

In this multimedia lecture-performance, artist and researcher Stella Ioannidou will reinterpret her text and video essay “Elsewhere is a Negative Mirror” into a series of visual and narrative reflections exploring the contradictions and desires inherent in urban landscapes. Drawing on her research conducted in the cities of Athens, Alexandria, and Marseille, she will assemble a fragmentary cartography of the imaginaries and fictions woven into a city.

16:10 – A Talk is a Talk is a Talk, A Conversation about the Place Holder publication between Chiara Cartuccia, Lodovica Guarnieri, and Marwa Benhalim

© Mucem

Place Holder is a conversation between Chiara Cartuccia, Onur Çimen, Lodovica Guarnieri, Stella Ioannidou, Sara Fakhry Ismail, Zeynep Kaserci, Mark Lotfy, Gabriele Leo (Postdisaster), Omnia Sabry, Mahmoud El Safadi and virgil b/g taylor. Evolving across a series of encounters within and without the group, between language, site, word, and image, Place Holder hopes to learn from the space between us with an eye towards documenting our shared non-productive moments on the caravan residency through a print output, which evokes but does not explain.

16:40 – Concluding conversation & Q&A with Mohamed Adel Dessouki, Stella Ioannidou, Lodovica Guarnieri, Chiara Cartuccia, and Marwa Benhalim

19:30 – 21:00 ‘Let’s continue the reflections’, Meet the Writer: Hisham Matar & Philippe Sands

© Christian André Strand © Diana Matar

British-Libyan writer Hisham Matar and French-British writer Philippe Sands are not only professional brothers but also friends. Bozar brings them together for a rare public appearance. Matar will deliver a keynote speech on the role of the cosmopolitan in times of nationalism and sectarianism, followed by a conversation with Sands.

Hisham Matar is the author of numerous books, including In the Country of Men (2006) and The Return (2016), which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Matar’s work has been translated into 30 languages. He is a professor at Columbia University, New York.

Philippe Sands is the author of several books, including East West Street (2016), The Ratline (2020) and The Last Colony (2022). He is a professor at University College London and Harvard Law School.