MENTOR: Sarah Rifky, Edwin Nasr
WHEN: February 2022 – July 2022
The Caravan Residency Programme aimed to survey the European cities of Athens, Brussels, Marseille, and Nicosia, through the lens of Alexandria and its contested urban imaginaries.
The chimeric port city served as heuristic device for the Caravan Residency Programme. Alexandria has been shaped by the historic tensions and contested narratives of imperial and emancipatory forces. In the 13th century, it emerged as an atypical site of commercial activity and pre-capitalist trade infrastructures set up by European merchants. The New Imperialism of the 19th century then incorporated the Eastern Mediterranean into the circuitry of global economy; at that point, Alexandria was administered by the Ottomans, then bombed and occupied by the British. The city became a playground for the articulation of utopian imaginaries, hosting anarchists, intellectuals, and renegades from the Arabic-speaking region and the world over to experiment with radical modes of assembly and critique and establish popular theatres and universities, independent presses, and fugitive communes.
The opportunity to think with and through Alexandria allowed us to exercise worldmaking against erasure and towards futurities. Worldmaking starts from worlds already at hand: the making is a remaking (Nelson Goodman); The Caravan Residency Programme was thus an invitation to compose, toy with, and re-figure existing parts and elements structuring our every day through a peripatetic format in Alexandria and other cities across Europe and the Mediterranean.
The six-month multi-city residency invited artists, cultural practitioners, and activists to articulate and configure new modes of relating to and understanding urban, infrastructural, and social processes and formations. The residency program engaged local organizations in partner cities and works toward the 17 Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
Sixteen participants have been selected to partake in a field, discursive and practice-based programme in conversation with the residency curators, social entrepreneurs and a range of tutors and presenters working across diverse disciplines and contexts, to be tailored to the group. The residency is outcome-based, and participants developed a final project as part of the programme’s conclusion which was showcased as part of the Forums: ‘Contemporary Alexandria’ in Athens, Biella, Marseille, Alexandria and Aarhus.
The Caravan Residency was conceived and realised by UNIDEE residency programmes at Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto in Italy and is curated by Edwin Nasr in conversation with Sarah Rifky.
The sixteen participants started the residence in February 2022 with a stay in Biella (Cittadellarte) and a stay in Alexandria (CLUSTER, French Institute). The residency was then divided into different paths and, guided by the local social entrepreneurs, participants decided to go to one of the following cities: Athens (Onassis Stegi Foundation), Brussels (Bozar), Marseille (Mucem), and Nicosia (Undo Point). All the artists were gathered for a final stay in Biella in July 2022 for the production and presentation of the final projects.
The Social entrepreneurs
The social entrepreneur is a curator or anthropologist / sociologist, urbanist, architect, activist, archaeologist who is interested in social transformation and who has a great knowledge of the territory, its problems and strengths and who is able to connect the residents with the constituencies of the territory.
All collaborators in host cities of the Caravan:
Forums – contemporary Alexandria:
The residencies outcomes were showcased through a series of forums. Each participating partner organised a forum (visual showcase and/or public debates) and involved local audiences, students, artists, scientists as well as local and national policy-makers.
The expected outcome of the forum were:
- To increase networking and market opportunities for artists;
- To increase visibility for the works of artists;
- To make citizens more aware of the positive impact of art interventions on urban and heritage contexts;
- To raise awareness on the actual condition and the reality of urban and societal challenges existing in Alexandria and beyond.
Place Holder is the aftermath of a peripatetic residency, the attempt of a small group to hold still what would otherwise slip away: the conversations that fill in the space between us during moments of rest, after dinner, on the couch, over some wine. Between artist book and collective essay, Place Holder is a working […]
After illustrating the stages of the ‘Caravan Residency Program: Thinking with Alexandria’ held in Biella, Alexandria, Nicosia, Brussels and Athens, we highlight the contents and behind the scenes of the last stage of the residency held in Marseille 16-21 May. For the occasion, social entrepreneur Alexandre Fiels accompanied the Caravan group to discover the French […]
After illustrating the phases of the ‘Caravan Residency Program: Thinking with Alexandria’ held in Biella, Alexandria, Nicosia and Brussels, we highlight the contents and behind the scenes of the residency held in Athens 16-21 May. During this experience, the participating group was confronted with the historical past of Athens, as well as the contemporary and […]
After illustrating the first phases of the ‘Caravan Residency Program: Thinking with Alexandria’ held in Biella and Alexandria, we highlight the contents and behind the scenes of the residency held in Nicosia from 2 to 8 May 2022. Listening, interaction and communication were the three basic aspects on which the organisation of the experience in […]
After illustrating the first phases of the ‘Caravan Residency Program: Thinking with Alexandria’ held in Biella, Alexandria and Nicosia, we highlight the contents and behind the scenes of the residency held in Brussels from 9 to 14 May. Together with the participation of local scholars, institutions and architects, the residency’s social entrepreneur, Pauline de La […]
Following the first phase of the ‘Caravan Residency Program: Thinking with Alexandria’, held in Biella, it is now the turn of the exploration of the current, but historical, Alexandria. This is a fundamental phase for the project as, through the symbolic and historical prism of this Egyptian city, the urban systems of the subsequent European […]
Caravan Residency program at Cittadellarte – The start of a residency about culture, cooperation and planning
From 20 February to 3 March, Cittadellarte hosted the Caravan Residency Program, a new stage of the project “Alexandria: (re)activation of common urban imaginaries”, conceived and implemented by UNIDEE Residency Programs, curated together with Edwin Nasr in conversation with Sarah Rifky and supported by the European Union’s Creative Europe programme. From the context of Biella […]