Beirut closed its doors in Cairo in 2015.

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Beirut Collaborative Commissions

BCC is a three-year pilot project that tests how dialogue between regional and international institutions can take place through the collaborative commission of artworks. It aims at developing an opportunity for collaboration amongst institutions with the shared goal of supporting the production and circulation of new artistic projects within a curatorial and logistic framework of exchange. This encompasses supporting artistic production on-site, from the inception of an idea to research, production and exhibition/presentation. To undergo this experience in chapters (3–4 commissions) will allow for a learning curve to evolve, priming further growth to practice-based collaborative models of exchange amongst institutions in the future.

BCC aims at circulating work of 'international standard' by recently emerged and mid-career artists within the wider Arab region, and focus on North Africa. Thereby ensuring that art is circulated and able to be produced in the Arab region, around which institutions can generate activities spanning different disciplines –including art education, creative writing, etc.– for a local audience.

BCC aims at facilitating the building of a local know–how with regards to complex artistic productions in order to allow artists to produce in their base–countries while developing new and professional work opportunities for younger people.

BCC aims to provide young and emerging artists with consultancy, theoretical and curatorial support in order to assure a bold reading of their work internationally, and to acknowledge the role small art institutions play in being an arbiter of and site of advocacy for underrepresented art practices.

At this pivotal moment of change informed by the rethinking, reform and radical overturning of political institutions, the resonance of art as a locus of thought, symbolic action and imagination towards change increases while extreme cuts in state, public and private support of the arts threatens its sustenance.

Artworks are a syncretic result of the 'sprit of their time' , they bear witness of the contemporary condition, stimulate unconventional thinking towards the present, and can represent a site of encounter and exchange.

In Egypt and the Arab World (excluding the UAE) emerging institutions of art rely on self-organized and grass-root knowledge and individual/collective initiatives. The absence of large (state or private) institutions, such as museums and other organizations, lends a shared reality of challenges facing artistic production. The presence and development of art works is often reduced to event-based formats (during biennials, festivals, etc.) and is not wholly integrated within organizations’ objectives, while more emphasis is placed on the exchange and support of artists. The re-initiation of the work of art within the public realm (both as object, as method, performance or otherwise) relies on how we can present projects that connect artworks to people, places and questions.

Increasingly, there is a disparity between where artists grow and are based and where their work is commissioned, produced and presented. Commissioning bodies lie within the rising new art market centers of the Emirates, given their economic ability, and more and more the work of artists from countries like Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine, are circulating internationally without showing in the region’s cities of Cairo, Alexandria, Beirut or Ramallah. Production abilities and know-hows are rarely developed locally, thereby forcing artists to bring forward ambitious projects abroad, where such support can be provided.

As a project arising out of a newly-founded institution that seeks to rethink the role and function of institutions, curatorially in Egypt and the region, the BCC asks: What is the role of an artwork within the temporal and geographic context it is produced? How can we facilitate the creation, production, presentation of artworks in the region? Could the building of a network of collaboration help partaking such a major scope? Could this strategy become a start-off for a future collaborative method that could become on-going? How can we implement a know-how that could allow for the production of logistically ambitious projects locally? How can we use our knowledge and expertise of and on the region to avoid the flattening and the homogenization of the reading of local artists’ work abroad?