Dreaming in Alexandria: The Cairo Seminar

The Poet C.P Cavafy’s Drawing Room, Alexandria

The Cairo Seminar

May 9 – June 9 2012, The Cairo Seminar: Studium. 

July 1 – July 8 2012, The Cairo Seminar: The Seminar.

The Cairo Seminar is a study and exchange program between Kassel and Alexandria comprised of two parts: The Cairo Seminar: Studium and The Cairo Seminar: The Seminar.

The Cairo Seminar: Studium was a collaborative study program at MASS Alexandria that involved nine students in the discussion of dOCUMENTA (13) in Alexandria, the collaboration in the installation of the artworks in Kassel and, finally, the development of The Seminar back in Alexandria. It aimed to give the students not only new skill sets and ideas, but access to subjects and materials not usually found in traditional educational spaces.

THE CAIRO SEMINAR: THE SEMINAR

Different venues in Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt. July 1 – 8, 2012.

The Cairo Seminar: The Seminar, is a series of breakfasts, readings, lectures and discussions, as well as collective dinners, in significant venues in the city of Alexandria with invited participants (grouped into Key Notes, Instruments, Chorus, Accompaniments and Preludes) between July 1 and 8, 2012, during the exhibition in Kassel. While most activities take place in Alexandria (in place of Cairo), the title of the seminar is meant as a subtle reinstitution of a city, in its historical role, in real time—today.

The seminar takes as its subject two very simple principles: sleeping and dreaming. “Without sleep,” Russian architect Konstantin Melnikov argued, “fresh air will do little for our health.” He was referring to his proposed building, which he named the “Sonata of Sleep,” in which hundreds of workers could sleep at the same time. (In Russian, the words for to sleep and to dream have a common word.) This example, referring both to an architecture of order and the highest moment in Modern revolutionary ideas of change and human adaptation to the “new system,” is cited only as one instance of the themes discussed. That the dream state and waking reality might be on an equal footing and that the sensory world is a dream from which one must awaken is a proposition from which the seminar departs. Since no one morphology of the dream phenomenon is either sufficient or comprehensive, the seminar adopts a hybrid composition of philosophy and psychoanalysis, expanding out towards art and its phenomenology, art theory, and literature, to elucidate the oneiric phenomenon from a vast array of perspectives. The seminar proposes an archaeology of the dream, a philosophically inflected excavation that celebrates the contingent and ambiguous as signifiers of truth conceived as proportionate to, but not prescribed by, nature, and therefore its political potential for today’s state of affairs.

The Cairo Seminar: The Seminar is a jointly conceived program between CIRCA and dOCUMENTA (13), and is hosted by MASS Alexandria and Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum (ACAF). Initiated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Artistic Director of dOCUMENTA (13), and Sarah Rifky, Director of CIRCA (Cairo International Resource Center for Art), the Seminar is also conceived with Chus Martinez, Head of Department, dOCUMENTA (13), Adam Kleinman, Agent for Public Programs for dOCUMENTA (13), Bassam El Baroni, Director of ACAF and Wael Shawky, Director of MASS Alexandria.

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2 Comments on “Dreaming in Alexandria: The Cairo Seminar”

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