Text Contributors: Andrea Thal, Ash Moniz, Daniel Blanga Gubbay, Engy Mohsen, MF Kalfat, Mai Amer, Malak Helmy, School of Intrusions (Noor Abed and Lara Khaldi), Omar Alsayyed, Omar Kassab, Rami Abadir, Rania Atef, and Sarah Maher.
Chatrooms: On Curating Spaces is a project by Engy Mohsen and Sarah Maher that took place between April 2019 and July 2020 and engages with five spaces for convening and conversing. The project ends with the printing of this book—which holds the same name—and is considered to be a sixth room. Through a compilation of reflections, texts, images, poetry, dialogues, and drawings, we engage with the knowledge accumulated throughout the project’s duration. The book traces the rooms through dissected elements to create parallel narratives about, and around, the rooms that go beyond direct documentation of past events.
Nour El Safoury joined us to work on formulating an editorial vision for the book and an outline of its content that engages with the previous parts of Chatrooms. It includes texts written either by people who took part in the rooms, or people we have encountered over the course of our research and whose practices and theoretical works allow us to expand our understanding of our own convening practice.
Over the duration of the project, we hosted a series of happenings that we call "rooms". We created spaces for convening and conversing. For each room, we invited participants to come together and engage in a conversation where the overlay of affective and physical components alluded to situational potentialities. The project explores different modes of participation, factors that impact social gatherings, emerging relations, and collective knowledge-making while playing around with spatial settings, seating arrangements, and the spaces where we meet.
Engy Mohsen is an architect and visual artist based in Cairo. She is exploring notions of ‘participation’ and ‘collectivity’ by designing formats of meetings that invite non-artists and artists to produce knowledge about how spaces can be organized to include the ‘other.’ She has a bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Urban Design and participated in Roznama Studio Program and MASS Alexandria.
Sarah Maher has a degree in economics and a non-degree in liberal arts and sciences. She has been part of educational programs such as CILAS, Dahshur Film Residence, and MASS Alexandria. Her questions revolve around the different modes of knowing, the intersection between the community and the institution, and the gap between experience and expression.
Nour El Safoury is an independent editor and cinema critic who is part of the (arts and culture) publishing community in Cairo. Together with designer Shahd El Sabbagh, she is the editor of Esmat—A Publishing List, a collection of publications that takes inspiration from fictional characters and the feelings they invoke. She has an MA in Film Studies from King’s College London (UK) and completed her BA at Johns Hopkins University (USA).