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Tale of Two Cities

A celebration of Greek and Egyptian cultural synergies

tale of two cities

In a remarkable collaboration that transcends time and borders, CulturVator / Art D’Égypte has officially launched its art exhibition titled Tale of Two Cities and hosted jointly by the Acropolis Museum in Athens (25 June – 16 July, 2024) and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria (17–31 October, 2024). 

This extraordinary exhibition is held under the auspices of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Egyptian embassy in Greece led by H.E. Omar Amer which is set to commemorate the Greece-Egypt union occurring in Athens and revitalizing the profound historical and cultural ties that have interlinked the two nations throughout the centuries.

CulturVator/Art D’Égypte is proud to partner with and be hosted by the Cavafy Archives, the Onassis Foundation, and the Onassis Library led by Ms. AfroditiPanagiotakou; the Benaki Museum led by Dr George Manginis; and the Acropolis Museum led by Professor Nikolaos Stampolidis.

The exhibition aims to create a visual dialogue that explores the rich tapestry of shared heritage and the foundations of classical antiquity that both Greece and Egypt exemplify. Against the backdrop of a global initiative to strengthen cultural bonds, Tale of Two Cities will serve as a beacon of unity, fostering a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness between these ancient civilizations. Through the works of contemporary artists, the exhibition will bridge the gap between antiquity and the present, illustrating how the Greece-Egypt cultural connection continues to inspire and shape the artistic and cultural landscape today.

Nikolas Stampolidis, the General director of Acropolis Musuem said : “I would like to confess that the Acropolis Museum does not host art exhibitions, it is an exception today because it is connected with the embassy of Egypt, a country that it is not only a friend but we are in a sisterhood ”.

The participating Greek and Egyptian artists will create artworks in response to the artistic convergence that has evolved throughout history, highlighting the deep-rooted bonds that continue until the present day, while also celebrating the distinct identities of both nations. The exhibition aims to showcase Greek and Egyptian artists in direct dialogue that mirrors that of their civilizations over thousands of years. It will dissect and learn from the artistic alchemy that has emerged and examine how aesthetics and symbolism have played a major role in shaping the creative direction. Taking place across museums, libraries, and galleries in both cities, each event will add different dimensions to the story of this cultural exchange.

Tale of Two Cities will feature artists including the late artist Mahmoud Said, Papageorge, Costas Varotsos, Danae Stratou, Omar Touson, Said Badr, and Karim El Hayawan, to name a few, and illustrate the diverse array of artistic expressions. In addition, there will be one night at the St. George hotel presented through the lens of Ahmed Farid.

A collateral exhibition titled “Art by the Sea” will be held at the Lemon Tree &co, Riviera in Athens starting 25 June 2024. It will be open to the public through the end of summer and aims to create a dialogue between humanity and the vast expanse of the sea. It will present a fusion of creativity and the timeless rhythm of the waves, where the ever-changing coastline serves as both canvas and muse. Here, artists harness the elemental power of water and sand, translating the whispers of the tide into visual poetry. Each piece is a testament to the ebb and flow of life, a reflection of the endless cycle of creation and destruction. In this immersive gallery of nature, Art by the Sea becomes a meditation on impermanence, beauty, and the eternal dance between land and sea. The exhibition showcases works by Egyptian artists including Emad Abu Grain, Dina Fahmy, Mariam Abou Taleb, Iman Barakat, and Weaam Ali.

Nadine Abdel Ghaffar, the founder of Culturvator/Art D’Égypte, expressed her delight that this initiative has become reality, stating, “This exhibition is not merely a showcase of artistic brilliance, but a profound cultural exchange designed to be a transformative experience and to foster a renewed appreciation for the enduring cultural ties between these two nations.” She added, “I was born and raised in Alexandria and was always fascinated by Alexander the Great’s vision to create a cultural city. As an Alexandrian, I feel it is my responsibility to carry out this mission and extend it into our contemporary world.” 

Omar Amer, The Egyptian Ambassador in Greece also expressed his enthusiasm for the initiative, saying: “We are proud to say that Egyptians and Greeks are genetically connected, and this connection will continue between them. As we gather today at the historic Acropolis Museum in Athens to celebrate the ‘Story of Two Cities’ cultural event, we remember the timeless contributions of our civilizations to the values of humanity in knowledge, beauty, and the pursuit of excellence. This event is a testament to the strong bond between Egypt and Greece, two ancient civilizations that shaped the world. Today, as we stand here, we celebrate our shared heritage and the bridge that connects the past with the present, and the East with the West.”

Omar Tousson, one of the participating artists, says, “For me, Tale of Two Cities holds profound significance beyond its status as an art exhibition. Before being an artist, I’m an Alexandrian, and that means possessing a rich cultural legacy nurtured amidst the streets and corners of this wonderful city. This heritage, deeply rooted in the cosmopolitan history of Alexandria, continues to shape much of my artistic inspiration.” 

Danae Stratou adds, “I created a 600 cm aluminum rod balanced on a 150 cm stainless steel shaft which points towards Alexandria when in Athens and towards Athens when installed in Alexandria. Its sharp edges piercing and transversing the spatial confines of the museum serve as a conduit for conceptual exploration beyond the physical space. As it traces an imperceptible line that transcends mere geographical boundaries, the sculpture delineates an axis that extends ad infinitum, connecting Athens and Alexandria. In the context of a timeless sculptural dialogue on the functions of perception and artificial infinity, the intercultural trajectory and the historic interconnectedness of the two cities embody a profound exploration of spatiality, historical narratives, and memory.

Said Badrcontemplates the connection between the heritage of the two cities, “Words grow, and people owe nothing except their word; man’s honor is nothing but his word. With a simple word, misery can dissipate. Words are a beacon of light for nations.”

Costas Varotsos adds, “As Charles Dickens said,‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.’Βut I want to add that the two cities will give hope again because they are two cities that have defined world culture.”

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