Darb 1718 has a history inextricable from the rich history of Cairo itself. The narrative really begins in the seventh century when Fustat was chosen as the capital for a newly empowered nation. The city bourgeoned into the center of art and culture in the Middle East and Africa. This early success was met by a turbulent millennium and a half of war and peace; yet, the artists and craftsmen persevered through all hardships keeping the rich artistic heritage of the area alive. It is on this tradition that Darb 1718 aims to once again build an African/Arab cultural icon renowned the world over.
Darb 1718 was the brainchild of Egyptian visual artist and cultural activist Moataz Nasr. Moataz was an active participant in the 1977 Egyptian “Bread Revolution” of January 17th and 18th, during which he sustained a gunshot wound to the shoulder. Hence, Darb 1718 was conceived—the name being a pun on the Arabic words “to hit” and “path,” as Darb 1718 aspires to follow the path, i.e., the path to positive, lasting change in society through artistic and cultural enrichment.
Darb 1718 had to overcome large bureaucratic hurdles and continued supervision by the Egyptian Ministry of Social Affairs to formally establish itself as a non-profit NGO in December of 2008. Nestled behind the ancient ruins of Roman, Islamic, and Coptic civilizations, Darb 1718 is an alive and modern contemporary art space complete with two contemporary art galleries, two live performance stages, large outdoor cinema, workshop areas, roof lounge, and artist-in-residence studio and living space. By forming strong ties with local craftsmen; young Egyptian artists, intellectuals, and activists; and the rest of the world, Darb 1718 is maintaining a space founded on an otherwise unheard of artistic heritage yet in stride with rapidly changing technologies and media—firmly building a network along the currents of change sweeping the world and putting young Egyptian artists at the forefront.