By Fanny Ohier
The first archive for Arabic contemporary performing arts will open at the end of next September in Cairo.
ARC.HIVE will allow access to free content on “what is [currently being] performed in the Middle East”, according to Adham Hafez, an Egyptian choreographer and artist, and one of the principal creators of the project. Several years ago, Hafez, along with the team of the HaRaKa project, decided to set up the first space for archives on performing arts in the Middle East.
ARC.HIVE is a continuation of another project called HaRaKa, a research platform on performing arts launched in 2006. The idea for creating this platform was based on Hafez’s observation that in Egypt, and indeed, across the Arab world, it was impossible to access documents concerning performing arts.
The ARC.HIVE project is composed of three research centres disseminated over three continents, and connected by an online portal. “It is about the Middle East, and it is about contemporary performing arts,” Hafez emphasised. “So it is dance, theatre and music; but of course sometimes there are things that are intersecting [such as] visual arts.
“ARC.HIVE will have one unit here in Cairo, which will have books, DVDs, CDs, reviews and audio interviews from and by Arab performing artists or about them; and then we’re creating an ARC.HIVE duplicate for our New York partner and another one for our German partner,” he explained. Consequently, as soon as the research centres are established, people from the three continents would have access to archives and a concrete space to consult documents on performing arts.
Beyond that, the role of the internet portal is to connect the three physical spaces in order to “announce and remind people of the existence of concrete documents disseminated between the three platforms,” said Hafez. “For instance, if we finally acquire a big collection on one choreographer or one composer, then we [are advised to] go to the New York Library to see it, or to go to Cairo to meet the artists and so on.”
The internet portal will also communicate the researches and projects of the different centres. “There are already research programmes going on,” said Hafez. “There is a programme called HADS, for advanced dance and performance studies, and there will be educational trainings on regular and opera singing.”
The archive in Cairo will both collect and produce materials on performing arts. Located in the Immobilia building in downtown Cairo, the resource centre will host “cultural events or performances, lectures, music nights with live singing, and small dances.” Hafez explained, “It will also be a teaching space. In addition, there is a research room, ARC.HIVE’s core space, which has a lot of TV screens, and computers, as well as editing facilities to edit videos or audio. It will also have a big library which is basically shelves of books, DVDs, CDs and audio interviews etc.”
The research centre in Cairo will be accessible to all those interested in learning about and working in the performing arts. “It’s open to the public,” Hafez said. “Anyone can come.”