Mostafa and the city of bridges
Egypt in Pittsburgh
The formula for the Pittsburgh artist workshop was exactly the same as the Egyptian one. La Follette sent out an artist call, curated the artists in, specifically looking for an eclectic group.
With help from the Heinz Endowments, La Follette rented The Bricolage space downtown and in May of 2011, the workshops began. Just as the Egyptian workshops were run, La Follette begins inside to build trust through an exploration of performing in the space. Slowly the group moves the live human installations out into the landscape. The artists document the human installations and they are developed into Site-Specific Performances and shared on the website. The artists moved around Pisttburgh, from down town to out side the CMU art bilding.
There is not time to rest after the Pittsburgh workshop is over. While the artists are exchanging digitally, La Follette and co-curator Katherine Talcott start walking through the installation space at the Mattress Factory Museum. Firefly website designer and technician Corey Sattler works hard to finalize and tweak last minute uploading problems. The Pittsburgh/Egypt artists exchange ideas, images, video, and sound. Works are curated into the virtual gallery (http://fireflytunnels.net/gallerie) as well as the physical gallery. Thus, the installation begins!
After much red tape and support from both the local and international community, ArtUp gathered enough letters of support to get approval from Homeland Security to bring the Egyptians to town for the closing events. Because of the expensive paper work for special visas and Amado Al Fadni’s ticket, the organization reached out to their audience/supporters to help finance the closing events. Unlike in the U.S., if you are born in Egypt, that does not mean you are an Egyptian citizen. One of the artists, Al Fadni carries a Sudanese passport and could not have a layover in Europe without a time absorbing and expensive transit visa. Without the generous donations of our audience, Amado would not have been able to participate in the final closing events. Thank you ArtUp supporters for making this possible.
There was such an outpouring to see the Egyptian artists, ArtUp had to turn down offers to visit, artists, organizations, and institutions. There simply were not enough hours in the day. However, the Egyptians got to see snow for the first time and toured local schools, art studios, museums, and organizations.
ArtUp is proud to announce that the organization has been invited to Palestine to continue this work by building a “tunnel” between Palestine and Israel. The organization is not naïve and knows this will not be an easy project. However, the MF museum has invited La Follette to return with this new endeavor. Charlie Humphrey of Pittsburgh Filmmakers has also invited the new Firefly Tunnel Project, SITES OF PASSAGE: Palestine to Israel to exhibit all the 2D work and video at the mini Melwood screening room and in the gallery. Once again, the organization will be cross-pollinating with other Arts organizations, expanding the community it is exposed to, and building new partnerships.