A Major European-Egyptian Project Opens in Alexandria

28 March 2011

The LIQUID CONTINENT exhibition opened on 21 March 2011 at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, where stunning modern architecture faces the Egyptian coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The exhibition explores the people, cities, cultures, and histories of the Mediterranean by presenting in different media the similarities and the differences between three great Mediterranean cities: Alexandria, Istanbul, and Venice.

In a book that inspired the exhibition, Nicholas Woodsworth wrote: you can look at the sea as a single entity, a place from whose coastlines people look over the water to each other. This sea has its own cities, its own life, its own way of being.

The exhibition attempts to convey in images and sounds how people of different nationalities, languages, and traditions have so much in common because they belong to the shared cultural landscape of the Mediterranean.
So it used to be for millennia. But can the spirit of the liquid continent survive today against assaults from globalization, on the one hand, and the rising nationalisms and religious fundamentalisms on the other? At this time in the early spring of 2011, as momentous changes are sweeping through the southern coast of the Mediterranean, these questions are particularly relevant and urgent.

The future of The Liquid Continent was addressed at a literary workshop and a discussion panel at the opening of the exhibition on 21 March. The distinguished authors Ibrahim Abdel Meguid, Muhammad Awad, Michael Haag, Philip Mansel, and Nicholas Woodsworth presented their views and lead the discussion.

As part of The Liquid Continent project, an artistic workshop in September 2010 brought together young artists and art students from the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts in Istanbul, the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice, and from the Alexandria University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, which hosted and helped to organize the event.

The Liquid Continent project was co-financed by the European Union Delegation to Egypt and Mercedes Benz, Egypt – Alexandria National Automotive. The Alexandria Library generously offered its hospitable premises to host it. The project has also been supported by the Sofitel Cecil Hotel in Alexandria, and by the Canadian Embassy in Egypt.