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February 24, 2011

Choir captures Tahrir revolution's Utopian vibe

Al Masry al Youm:

Ever since Egyptians took to the streets on 25 January to overthrow the Hosni Mubarak regime, people have tried to document events and capture the dynamics among Tahrir Square's protesters. Accounts from the square describe a mini “Utopian” community, united by a common cause despite differences in ideology as well as social, cultural and economic backgrounds.

The Utopia Choir--which performed twice this week at Downtown’s Rawabet Theater and Al-Hanager Theater on the Cairo Opera House Grounds--stands out among these attempts, as it seeks not to document but highlight positive values from the square that its members hope will endure. The Utopian theme was conceived by choir members in early January, before the uprising began.

“The idea was originally to find alternative ways to critique the status quo by imagining a different future, despite the constraints at the time,” explained Salam Yousry, artistic director of the Choir Project.

The project, which aims to provide tools for collective self-expression, started in May 2010, when the Cairo Complaints Choir--a local rendition of the Complaints Choir project by Finnish artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kallleinen--performed as the opening act for the Invisible Publics contemporary art exhibition at the Townhouse gallery. Twenty-five young men and women developed four songs over the course of a six-day workshop wittily criticizing the Egyptian political regime and social and cultural problems in Egypt.

They brought in a foreign company to clean up Egypt’s streets
The ‘Europe 2000’ experts made them bigger garbage heaps….
God help us bro, they’ve extended the Emergency Law!

Ever since, the choir became an independent project, exploring the same issues through different themes, such as The Ads Choir last October and The Proverbs Choir last December. As new members continued to join, the choir became “a small yet growing community,” as Yousry described it. Over 50 members have so far joined the Utopia Choir. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at February 24, 2011 10:01 PM

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