Although i never considered myself a revolutionist nor activist per se, I think that i was deeply affected by the revolution or the uprising of 2011, or whatever we can call it now.
Back in the time, I never felt belonging to any activist, civilian nor political groups, so I was somehow participating adhocly neither in an organized nor even a planned way. I simply participated following my inner voice, marching and chanting alone, or with my sister and close friends, haphazardly.
I witnessed all the events as silent participant and sometimes as an observer. I witnessed the crash of the system on the 28th of Jan, the vacuum of power, the resistance, the counter-revolution, the referendum election, the first real election, the daily clashes with an old rotten system, the Muslim Brotherhood rising in the power, then crashing, and the return of the most mediocre, violent and corrupted military rule ever over the country.
I was invited during the gathering of NASA, For the Love of It this year to give a presentation about my organization work in the field of art in public space and community arts projects in Egypt for the past five years. The meeting this year was organized under the theme of “opposition”. I tried to relate to this theme, to make an entry point to my presentation and to our work, and i kept asking myself, do we “oppose” anything? any system? any politics?. The only theme that I can find representing our work, is actually “resilience”. All we were doing from the start, and through our varies work, activities, strategies, and lessons learned was simply “being resilient” and “keep pushing”.
We were trying over and over again, getting always to the edge of breaking down and collapse, but by a miracle, we rise and keep pushing. We survived a lot since our establishment: difficult economies, limited funding opportunities, overload of work, wrong management, adjustments, precarious presence in the public space, constant thread of being stopped, difficulties with issuing permissions, securing our salaries and our staff, wrong processes, devaluation, difficult negotiations with partners, with authorities, and with participants
We kept pushing and reacting to the environment and all these challenges on the external and the internal levels, for the past five years, while our experience of the revolution, was there deep berried deep far far away in my conscious mind.
I underestimated how these events, lived intensively in 2011, 2012 and 2013, had deeply affected me, till just this year during a residency that I had in Bore Place, during the start of my Clore Fellowship for culture leader late 2016, I started to reflect on how all this has affected me, my work and my surrounding. We have lived this rare moment where we witnessed the collapse of a system and we survived it in one way or another. I got all my beliefs shaken for once before all get restored by the old machinery of the power. However, I disbelieved this moment of truth and kept functioning as if nothing has happened. I keep doing what I was doing in such a difficult environment, handicapped system, and rotten politics.
In parallel, I also, as a silent witness and observer, am witnessing on the global level, the election of Donald Trump in the USA, the rise of the right wing parties in Europe, the crises of immigrants all over the world and last but not least the environmental issue and threads to our human kind.
And I wonder why are we (am I) trying so hard to survive and to coop with? We are loosing our creative forces and power over living old, archaic and rotten systems that we were trying so hard to live, and unfortunately to create and recreate. The systems, all systems have failed us and we should stop recreating and feeding them. By simply surviving them we gave them the power of still breathing and living, fed by our energy and youth.
Not knowing any better, I kept feeding them by my resilience, adaption and flexibility. As much as i want to escape them i recreated some of their aspects in my world, and tried so hard to fit into them.
After all this time, feeling always like I have to keep fighting on all fronts, I feel that the solution should be radical, and completely out of the box. I, before we, should give up the recreation and the adaptation to a rotten system, to start with, in my own entreprise.
I feel that as a leader, and currently the head of this entreprise, i need to start by myself and give up the power to the collective, to start to seek this radical and new solution to organize our work and our lives. As much as i want deeply to let it go, I sit there drained to think honestly, am i ready to do it or not. Am I ready to deconstruct to reconstruct? Am i ready to let go all old believes about the power of leadership and surround to the fact that nothing that we knew before can work any more.
The systems, all systems have failed us and they have to die. But are ready for the consequences?