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Yes we’re still here, but why?

7/07/18 2pm


Join Townhouse gallery Director William Wells and other speakers to look back on Townhouse gallery’s history and discuss the role of art produced in zones of conflict and oppression.

Townhouse gallery’s Director William Wells opens the afternoon in a conversation about piecing together twenty years of Townhouse history in conversation with writer and editor Negar Azimi.

This is followed by a discussion on art and the fetishisation of risk. To run an arts institution and to insist on staying open in moments of societal trauma, as Townhouse has done since its founding twenty years ago, is to stake a claim for the importance of art. This panel unpacks the role of art produced in alleged zones of “conflict,” under oppressive governments, or in so-called “emerging economies.” It will look at the complexities and challenges of viewing art produced in situations of risk. Does art produced in situations of perilousness and urgency give it a more heightened meaning than art produced in the West? Where does the belief that risk increases the value of an art work come from? The discussion will look specifically at the relationship between art and risk, and more broadly at different ways of assigning meaning to art. 

About the speakers

Naira Antounis one of the founders of Mada Masr and a culture journalist. Her writings have also appeared in Electronic Intifada, Al Ahram and Egypt Independent.

Stephanie Bailey is editor-in-chief of Ocula Magazine, a contributing editor to ART PAPERS and LEAP, and the current curator of the Conversations and Salon Programme at Art Basel Hong Kong. A member of the Naked Punch editorial committee, she also writes for Artforum International, Yishu Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, and D’ivan, A Journal of Accounts. Between 2012 and 2017, she was managing editor and senior editor of Ibraaz.

Mariam Elnozahy (Egypt/USA) is a curator, archivist, and cultural manager based in Cairo at the Townhouse Gallery. She focuses primarily on critical, community-based work and seeks to promote Egyptian contemporary artistic practices.

Ania Szremski is the managing editor of 4Columns, a weekly online magazine of arts criticism based in New York City. She was the curator at Townhouse from 2011–15, and is the recipient of a 2016 Andy Warhol Arts Writers Grant for her blog project, I’d Prefer Not To.

William Wells is co-founder and director of one of the most innovative art spaces in the Middle East region, the nonprofit Townhouse Gallery of contemporary art in Cairo, established in 1998. Under his guidance, Townhouse has played a pivotal role in nurturing creative talent in the region.


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