Nodes

Nodes are an essential part of the Xabaca project, which ultimate goal is to sow a seed that will spring up into an international network against censorship of Arab female artists. A network which, in its potential, will visibilize and act internationally in the face of incidents such as violations of freedom of speech or censorship of female creators. Since 2017, 4 associations from Palestine, Morocco, Lebanon and Tunisia are part of the nodes network.

Ulzine - Morocco

L’Uzine is a multidisciplinary cultural and artistic space created in 2014 in Casablanca by the Touria and Abdelaziz Tazi Foundation, which supports artists, cultural and artistic actors as well as cultural projects related to youth but more broadly to the audiences in their diversity, and whose aim is to foster cultural life and the dissemination of artistic creation, to encourage contacts between artists and audiences and to promote the diversity of forms of cultural expression, with the objective of becoming a major player in the promotion and dissemination of creation in Morocco.

It supports artistic projects in several disciplines and alternative, urban and contemporary creations are at the heart of their action but they are also convinced that development through culture also involves the recognition and valorisation of traditional arts and heritage.

They defend culture as a right for all, as a vector of social link and citizenship and as a means of appropriating the city, which allows to open onto the world(s). They also defend free artistic expression and cultural diversity as a richness.

L’Uzine is a space entirely dedicated to creation, to transmission and to encounters between the audience, the artists and the creation, which aims at offering a space of expression by the art and the culture, a work space for the artists and a space of diffusion for the Moroccan and international creation as well as meetings and exchanges about creation, by the offer of several activities for its members and for all the audience. In addition to welcoming and showing the artistic creations produced within it, they also offer a program based on regular meetings.

Located in the heart of the industrial district of Ain Sebâa, the space allows through their actions, whether diffusion or transmission, to transform the neighborhood and to open it onto the territory of Casablanca through culture and creation, by receiving a rather diverse audience.

Dar Al Qandeel - Palestine

Created 25 years ago by some friends, Dar al Qandeel works mainly in development in the rural area of Tulkarem in the West Bank, also focusing on environment and education, not only by gathering artists but also creating an open and welcoming space for everyone and specially for young people. They stablished in an area where there was no space to meet and talk the way people want, where there was nothing to do and which was really different to Ramallah, which has become the centre and the political-social model where everything happens.

In that very traditional area, they knew boys and girls didn’t do anything together and nobody did things differently, they were sure lot of pressure from communities and political parties would come, but defending differences was is in fact their strong point. In the occupied territories there are like 190 organizations but none except Dar al Qandeel moved really on the street level, and even all the parties had projects but in reality nothing was done in the field. Dar al Qandeel, as the first independent organization bringing together many young people who have joined their activities, intends mainly to absorb and re-appropriate this young people’s actions and positions.

So basically one could say Dar al Qandeel works like an army of art, as they sometimes call themselves: they help to generate human resources to pull forward actions or to facilitate spaces on issues they consider important to work on. For example they put teenagers of both genders working together with old people, which helps them all fill the void of not knowing such things as what to do or how to resist, giving space to their dreams, even though they might not be artistic dreams.

But Dar al Qandeel is a small organization, with not as much resources and as much social and political respect as one could expect due to what they do and who they are. Talking about resources, the only good resource they have is a network of important people, which allows them contacts in different spaces and areas to pull forward ideas and projects. But in the other hand, even though they are respected as well-known artists in the area, police has looked on them, thinking they work for some political group, and even some groups of pressure such as the mosques are really talking about them in a negative way, respecting but advising to be careful and not to go against tradition.

Fanni Raghman Anni - Tunis

Fanni Raghman Anni is a non-governmental organization defending human rights through art. They began promoting and gathering groups of musicians and graffiti artists during the 2011 demonstrations and mobilizations in Tunisia. They first worked as a non-registered social movement until 2013, when they registered as a non-governmental organization.

Fanni Raghman Anni considers itself more a group of human rights defenders than artists, which was something very new in their country back in 2011. Since then, they have been using public spaces as scenarios (metro, in front of mosques, cafes, etc.) in order to get visible, and opening the debate and finally marching.

They have worked on various issues, such as torture, women in rural areas, economic problems and freedoms, which have originated various comments on the public opinion.

Also on 2014 – 2015, the Muslim Brotherhood movement was a problem: salafists came to burn their office and there were people imprisoned. Most of Fanni Raghman Anni’s 50 members have suffered some kind of repression because of their work. And they were jailed after a performing theatre on accusation of no respect for public morals.

As of 2015, the situation stabilized and the organization got more focused and calm. They had had very good reception from the people, even many lawyers had been supporting them in the last years of repression, for example.

Fanni Raghman Anni started entering in areas where the ministries or public institutions do not have access, such as drug zones, or they could work with young people from more marginalized classes in rural and transboundary areas.

Nowadays Fanni Raghman Anni does many activities, such as camps for artists or artistic training from music to script writing. They also make cartoons painting to work on radicalization and violent extremism in border and rural and mountainous areas, which suffer from radicalization. They reflect on Daesh and radicalization through the cartoons to say that you have to talk about this issue and not have it as a taboo or as an invisible topic. They work on this in schools and high schools, to discuss with young people about it. They even have created some stickers "Face to Face with Daesh" or they created a play using a phrase from the Koran to debate on religion topics. They do many different artistic activities every week.
They Received different awards such as Takreem cultural excellence award in the Arab world in 2016, the Tunisian League of human rights Award in 2018, and they are Sakharov Laureate of the European Parliament in 2017.

Space 27 - Lebanon

Space27 is a feminist artist run space/work studio.
The space aims to challenge who gets a voice in the art world in Lebanon and the region, and to say what. As feminists, members of Space27 see the need to make sure women from different socioeconomic backgrounds and underrepresented artists get a chance, a support system and a platform to produce and share our art.
Space27 works on using art as a tool for activism and change as opposed to a commodity in the art world; and frequently organizes workshops, art critique meetings where artists support each other in their creative processes, nude drawing sessions, and informal networking events; and supports young feminist artists by providing the space and sharing of skills within the network of artists.

Some of the space’s activities in the past year:
-Albi Ay! Ay!: a party (Immersive participatory multimedia installation) based on the work of Maha Abdul Wahab, a local forgotten sex-positive singer/composer from the 60's. It questioned our understanding of "traditional values", how our society has constructed a more conservative approach to sex, and how we talk about sexuality today in art and pop culture.
-Another Dinner Ruined: an ongoing film project that joins artists and activists - feminist killjoys - around a dinner table and lets the magic happen.
-Exhibitions: such as "The Egg and the Sperm" by Dana Qaddah, "Suriyyat" by the (anonymous) participants of art-therapy workshops for displaced women, etc.

Space27 is also hosting an initiative, Research by Comics, that brings together artists with gender and sexuality researchers from the region in order to collaborate on art that disseminates research about the region to a wider local audience. The current project turns complex academic papers into comics aimed at young feminist activists as well as young people who would want to read more on gender and sexuality issues but do not find easily accessible works by local researchers.