New Agents is a program that brings together a group of people from across arts fields from the Arab world, whose practices are singular, future facing, and committed to public engagement. The participants come from across territories whose pasts and presents are defined by overlapping cultural conditions, but whose futures remain wholly unpredictable given the precariousness of the Arab world. This reality, while harsh, is also ripe with possibility, since the constant changing of this landscape provides ample opportunity to imagine, speculate, and experiment. New Agents is an invitation to harness this chaos and put it to use towards an inventive future vision that is a result of collective processes and desires.
Practically, New Agents is a working group collaborating and learning together over an 18-months period, which will eventually lead to co-developing a speculative proposition. This proposition (for collective action) would be made public, in the form of a live event such as a conference, festival, exhibition, or something else.
The six participants joining the program come from a limited pool of candidates who have been invited to apply due to the relevance of their practices to such a collective endeavor. To fulfill New Agents’ aspirations, the participants in the program must be ambitious, collaborative, curious, and precise. Mophradat provides each participant with a stipend, along with making available a budget for each person to attend an international event useful to their professional development during the course of their participation.
The New Agents of 2023/24
Bayan Kiwan is an artist based between New York and Amman. She holds a BFA in from the University of Jordan and an MA in art, gender and sexuality, with a focus on SWANA, from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Bayan’s research and practice are driven by questions of place, memory, and the utopian in the everyday. An extension of this, her paintings are explorations of women’s private sociality and intimacy.
Dani Arbid is a writer, indie publisher, and media producer living between London and Berlin, where, in 2018, he founded Barakunan GmbH with a collective of collaborators. Barakunan is a transnational development, production, and distribution enterprise focused on literary and digital publishing, live, and digital events. In 2023, he founded Bara Digital, a new home for podcasts and audiobooks. Born in London and grew up between the UK and UAE, he studied political science at the American University of Beirut. He is currently studying Creative Business at the National Film and Television School, where he is writing a dissertation on the growing opportunities for writers of color to create original IP in the age of streaming.
Nour El Safoury is an editor and an art books publisher. In 2020, she founded the Esmat Publishing List, which seeks to publish and distribute books that engage with visual arts and performance arts. Esmat also provides a space to develop and test ideas and avant-garde notions about the arts and contemporary cultural production. Nour is a cofounder of the Cairo Art Book Fair, an art books fair that brings together publishers, authors, and distributors of art books and connects communities interested in art publishing in Egypt and in other geographies. Besides her work in publishing, Nour is a film critic and a member of the Egyptian Film Critics Association. Her articles appear in newspapers and magazines like Mada Masr, Aalam al-Kotob, and Al-Film magazines, in academic books, as well as in books and catalogues published by film institutes, like the Network for Arab Alternative Screens (NAAS), the Arsenal in Berlin, as well as Zawiya Hall in Egypt.
Sara Bouzgarrou is a Tunisian publisher/printmaker, illustrator, and cultural events coordinator. She is interested in the intersection between print, food-studies, and feminist issues through her interdisciplinary approach. She graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts in Tunis. In 2017, she founded LE 5015, a small press risography studio, co-founded the feminist project SHIFT with Bochra Triki, and later Athropollo 13, a publishing project combining comics and anthropological research that attempts to document field explorations and scientific texts using new narrative forms.
Sarah Bahgat is a Cairo-based cultural worker and programmer with a vested interest in film and literature and an extensive experience working with international institutions that support arts and culture across the Arab world. In 2014, she launched the Townhouse Salons, a series of conversations held with writers and filmmakers at Egypt’s former art institution, Townhouse Gallery, until its closure in 2019. For the following three years, she was the project manager of the arts and culture unit of the Danish-Egyptian Dialogue Institute, an initiative that supports artist mobility in Egypt and Denmark. Last fall, she joined Filmlab’s team to manage the 9th edition of Palestine Cinema Days. From program design to community outreach, her curatorial desire is to develop critical programs that cultivate relationships within the arts and wider civic spaces.
Siwar Krai(y)tem is a multilingual designer, researcher, and artist based between Beirut and Amsterdam. She recently graduated from the Temporary Masters Program – Disarming Design at the Sandberg Instituut, which centered on the role of art and design under oppressed systems. Since then, her research and artistic practice focus on multilingualism and language in times of transformation, as well as the construction of society through language. Since May 2021, Siwar co-curates the platform Latlateh (Arabic for unmeaningful chatter), an encounter-based platform which focuses on language and the power plays embedded in the language, semantics, translation, and the daily conversation.
New Agents is implemented as part of the project “Future Acts”, which is partially supported by the Federal Foreign Office, Germany, and with additional support from the Teiger Foundation.