Aug – 2010 

Firefly Tunnels are metaphorical passageways for the exchange of ideas through the language of Performance Art. One could think of them as an Underground Railroad that crosses the border of language, a system of tunnels that doesn't believe in the barriers of countries or in the obstruction of segregated tongues. Tavia La Follette

The project
The Firefly Tunnel Project is an artist exchange between the U.S. and Egypt. The project is the concept of the U.S. based artist Tavia La Follette and was brought to Egypt via her acceptance as an Artist-in-Residence to ARE (Artist Residency Egypt). La Follette runs her own non-profit gallery/performance space in the United States called ArtUp. Together with ARE and ArtUp, La Follette has begun on the Egyptian side of the Firefly Tunnel. ARE and its director Essam Serry, partnered with La Follette not only to gather an eclectic mix of Egyptian artists, but to also host the workshop and artists who are living outside of Cairo. ARE is currently providing an artistic home to 10 artists in their residency home based in Giza with a picturesque view of the pyramids.

ArtUp using U.S. based artists will run a parallel workshop/residency. A symbolic and technological (web site) tunnel will be built between Egypt and the States for the artists to exchange their ideas on art, cultural community and how to utilize performance art and installation as a road towards a common understanding of humanity. The words “performance art and installation” are used to describe the work as it invites various forms of artists to participate- poets, dancers, conceptual artists, musicians, actors, videographers, painters, essayists, sculptors etc. Because it is a virtual tunnel and can be accessed worldwide, this allows for the dialogue to open up to a global community. A final exhibition of the exchange will take place in the United States, bringing in 3-4 Egyptian artists to represent that side of the tunnel.

The philosophy behind the project
La Follette believes that as humans, we have an ability to project emotions onto physical objects or symbols. She hopes this project will help to define the value of creative vision for both Egypt and the U.S., gaining more support for the Arts from the government. If we can fabricate an object or a perforamative moment that has the power to transform our minds, even if only for a brief moment, a very powerful tool for communication is created. How delightfully ironic it is that we don’t even have to think about it. Instead, we feel it. La Follette believes that these un-thoughts, through aesthetic insights are what help us to evolve on a different level of communication, a communication through Metaphor, derived from Greek, meaning “to Transport.”

As an artist, curator and director, La Follette chooses to create art so she can say what she cannot say. Through working with Egyptian artists, the project aims to “transport” ideas, to create a common catharsis.

The exhibition at Darb 1718
Saturated Souls is a celebration of the group's work over the past 3 weeks. The group of core artists comes from all over Egypt, varying in age, experience and mediums in which they work. Some of the works are pieces that were discovered through exercises during the residency and some of the works are being created specifically for the Darb 17 18 exhibit. All of the pieces are an exploration and expedition away from the artists’ original and more traditional work.

The exhibit Saturated Souls comes out of the themes that have been arising throughout the 3-week residency: border crossing, interrupted relationships, the perception between reality and illusion, the beauty and absurdity of culture, plus portraiture of humanity and self analysis.

Throughout the residency the artists have had direct contact with renowned Egyptian artists like Mohamed Abla, Sayed Hewedy, mentored through ARE by Ehab Yosef Elasyouty and now they come to gather in celebration at Darb 17 18, the Egyptian Contemporary Art and Culture Center.

Participating artists
Aaron Hollan, Amado Alfadni, Asmaa Ezzat, Corey Sattler, Doaa Shaarawy, Emily Laychak, Hend Sameer, Manar Saleh, Marwa Khaled, Menna Hamed,  Mariam Omar ,Mostafa Sleem, Nouran Sherif, Noha Radwan, Ossama Awadallah, Ramy Hesham, Sarah El Sawy, Shreen Abd El Gawad, Tavia La Follette, Walid Mouris, Wafaa Samir


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