CIC has made visual images their business
Visual image (n): 1. a mental image that is similar to a visual perception, 2. a perception that arises from the eyes; an image in the visual system. Synonyms: Visualization
CAIRO: Defining a visual image and understanding it is a complicated task. Producing a perfect video, picture and/or image is even more complicated. To make life a little less complicated for those in the business of images, nine visual artists came together to create Contemporary Image Collective (CIC) in order to explain, support and present to Cairo the visual image.
“We focus on photography, video and film. The visual image, the role it plays in society and culture – a sociological, anthological study, says Aleya Hamza, resident curator of CIC.
Many associate CIC with the Townhouse Gallery, since it first started as a project in the Townhouse Annex. Actually, CIC uses a very different structure, avoiding the pyramid, instead aiming at a “utopian idealistic horizontal structure where each of the nine board members is a volunteer.
Also, unlike Townhouse, it is not a space for all forms of art. One of the board members, Paul Geday, explains, “It does not focus on art per se, it focuses on imagery . The background of the board members also shapes the CIC. We have a visual artist, professional photo journalist.
Workshops are targeted at beginners, amateurs and professionals. From a basic photography course, to video clip workshops, to documentary filmmaking on small budgets, CIC provides something for everyone in the field.
Many of the workshops are subsidized, and the CIC welcomes anyone.
In August, CIC went out of its way to take part in a different type of project. CIC, the Townhouse Gallery, Ebdaa Gallery and five individuals got together and decided to organize a solidarity campaign to increase awareness and to raise money, not for the large NGOs in Lebanon, but for the smaller ones who are in need of donations to help support refugees that are not in large clusters and therefore receive less attention and aid.
CIC held many of the events, including concerts, poetry readings, film screenings and a video project of photos from Agence France-Presse (AFP) of highly emotional photojournalistic shots taken during the war.
The campaign, entitled Li-Beirut, ended up raising LE 60,000. They received an average of 200 people in the audience for every event, along with excellent media coverage.
At the moment, the CIC are working on a publication version PhotoCairo.
PhotoCairo first began in Cairo in 2002 when the founder of the Townhouse Gallery William Wells got the idea after hosting the World Press Photo Exhibition. He realized that although many of the works presented were about the Middle East, none of the artists were actually from the region.
With that initiative, the Townhouse Gallery whipped up an event that gathered anyone who was interested in photography from the region. They realized that there were many young photographers locally who were working in documentary photography, moving images and photography as an art form.
After two successful years, CIC was created independently and played a huge role in PhotoCairo 3, which took place last year. With that exhibition, they opened their current space, an authentic villa in downtown Cairo.
Together, CIC and Townhouse put together the best one yet, involving participants from all over the world, in its many exhibitions, films and panels with a politically controversial framework.
The next PhotoCairo is expected to take place in 2007.
The board members also give regular portfolio reviews to amateur photographers, a process that is beneficial for starting artists and rarely available in the country.
CIC brought the Ingmar Bergman film series, the Swedish film director who is one of the key film auteurs of the second half of the twentieth century, that is being screened at the American University in Cairo until December.
Also in the works is an image bank, something Egypt is sorely lacking. They are putting together a database of stock photos that will include a collection of old photos.
CIC is located at 20 Safeyya Zaghloul St., 2nd floor, off Kasr El-Aini St.