Arab region: selected artists-in-residence 2025

Pro Helvetia Il Cairo

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Presenting the selected artists and cultural practitioners in residence going from Switzerland to the Arab region and from the Arab region to Switzerland.

Pro Helvetia Cairo received 82 applications from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia & the UAE, and 23 from artists and cultural practitioners from Switzerland to go on residency in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco.

The selected artists and cultural practitioners will spend up to three months in a different context, where Pro Helvetia in collaboration with local partner spaces, will provide them with workspace, professional guidance, and connections to local art scenes.

From the Arab region:

Aly Eissa

Egypt > Switzerland | Music

Aly Eissa, photo by Ebrahim Bahaa-Eldin

Aly Eissa is a self-taught oud player, composer, and improviser. He was mentored by legendary composer Abdo Dagher and Oud virtuoso Hazem Shahin. Eissa’s style is deeply rooted in Egyptian classical and folk traditions and influenced by various genres. Since 2012, Eissa has regularly performed his compositions solo and with an ensemble for live audiences, offering a meditative musical experience with a twist.

About the residency:

Aly is planning to use this residency to challenge his artistic outcome in a place with different sounds, visuals, media, language, and rhythm in life. Re-energize artistic growth by getting involved with many artists based in Swiss cities across a wide array of musical approaches and cultural backgrounds.

Aly will express his inspiration through different media and diverse cultural sensibilities, drawing from and building upon the universal language of art, establishing new artistic relationships, and connecting with musicians, artists, venues, and audiences.

Malak Helmy

Egypt > Switzerland | Visual Arts

Malak Helmy

Malak Helmy is an artist and writer working with text, image and sculptural forms. Her projects explore changing relationships between place, nature, technology and perception. Malak’s audio-visual work has been showcased at various venues internationally, including Bozar Center for Fine Arts, Brussels and Nottingham Contemporary, and her writing has been published widely.

About the residency:

During her residency in Switzerland, Malak will be working on a triptych of visual essays and drawings that trace shifts in visual aesthetics in the last decade, and their relationship to neo liberalization and data capitalism. These essays and drawings make reference to social media, recent art exhibitions and mass media transmissions and their effect on collective perception. This new project builds on her recent curatorial/editorial project “Software Upgrade”, that offers a speculative proposal that Egypt fell out of a shared global temporality between 2014 and 2019, as the foundation for a study of images and artistic production after that time. 

Manar Moursi

Egypt> Switzerland | Visual Arts

Manar Moursi

Manar’s work encompasses various media, including video, installation, performance photography, artist books, and writing. Her artistic practice transforms urban and rural environments, addressing their physical, social, and ecological changes by incorporating her personal history, subjectivity, and sometimes her own body in her works.

She presented her work in venues across the Middle East, Mexico, Canada, and Europe. She received support from institutions such as AFAC, Mophradat, and the Canada Council for the Arts. She received the Schnitzer Prize in 2023, a fellow at the Harvard Film Studies Center, and a resident at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin in 2024.

About the residency:

Manar will work on the history and current use of river bathing pavilions in Zurich. She aims to develop an art publication integrating her research on various geographies and emphasizing bathing, communal memories, and political-ecological concerns related to water bodies.

Over the past few years, Manar has been working on various water bodies and leisure infrastructure projects. She studied summering in Egypt, the preservation of Ottoman bathhouses in Bulgaria and Egypt, and the politics of rivers and water distribution in Morocco.

Maxime Hourani

Lebanon > Switzerland | Music

Maxime Hourani

Maxime Hourani is a multidisciplinary artist and architect. He works with time-based media on themes related to the transformation of landscapes and shifting ecologies. His works engage in poetic and political representations of land and social transformations. His current research is focused on 19th-century Arab futurism to question the existence of posthuman thinking at the turn of the Industrial Revolution. He worked on the theme of Petro modernity and the influence of the oil crisis of the 1970s on architectural technology in the Middle East and the Gulf region.

About the residency:

Maxime will be conducting research for an audiovisual performance in the setting of a quadraphonic surround system that transports the audience in an audio-cartographic experience. Sonic impressions are gates to desert mountains, arid landscapes with abandoned scientific complexes, and oil fields with wind turbines. Landscapes that he encountered in his previous projects. He is looking to recreate the soundscapes that mirror these spaces in flux. His electronic music is inspired by the materiality of the worlds that he reimagines.

Petra Serhal

Lebanon > Switzerland | Performing Arts

Petra Serhal

Petra Serhal is a multidisciplinary artist who creates multi-sensorial performances and installations using choreography as her primary tool. Her work draws from her ongoing research on the experiential aspect of performance and the role of the audience in the performative experience. She often deals with body, language, and sound concerning movement and space, the body as archive, fragmentation, absence, and embodiment.

About the residency:

“Gestures of Care” is the project that Petra will be developing during the residency to delve into the history of local plants, their uses and their effects on the daily lives of the locals and how, due to climate change, wars and the new virtual like these plants like our bodies are threatened. The research aims to develop a multi-sensorial performance spa where the audience is immersed with natural aromatic plants and flowers through smell, touch, vision and taste while listening to stories of the land.

Shadwa Ali

Egypt > Switzerland | Sound Arts

Shadwa Ali

Shadwa Ali, an independent audio and visual artist from Alexandria, graduated from Alexandria University’s Faculty of Fine Arts. Her multidisciplinary work spans printmaking, installation, video, sound, and music. Shadwa explores societal issues and human psychology, focusing on the chaotic routines of cities like Cairo and Alexandria and the impact of significant events on social memory and behaviour. Her work highlights unnoticed details and the absurdity of reality. She has exhibited her work in Egypt and internationally and has been featured on various international radio programs

About the residency:

“Fireball” is an ongoing sonic research project initiated in Cairo and Alexandria in 2022. It focuses on city soundscapes, illustrating a sound map of urban planning versus nature’s effects on inhabitants’ psychological and mental health. By using ambient sounds as a rich language, it reveals societal complexities. The project examines how the definition of “noise” varies across capital cities. It is influenced by cultural differences where the cultural fabric is loaded with musical notes and humans are its instruments, capable of reconstructing their future.

From Switzerland:

Anouar Kaddour Cherif

Switzerland > Algeria | Music

Anouar Kaddour Cherif

Originally from Sétif (Algeria), an Algerian singer-songwriter residing in Switzerland, weaves musical dreams. He is a versatile artist and original composer who loves creating imaginative music and breaking conventions. As the leader of El Mizan and the Djawla Quartet, he blends Algerian traditions with contemporary sounds, offering an innovative sonic experience. A virtuoso mandolinist who graced Swiss and European stages, enriching the international music scene and celebrating Algerian cultural richness radiantly since 2017.

About the residency:

More than a musical endeavour, this project embarks on a journey into an experimental clubbing realm where conventions are shattered. It seeks to experiment with electronic music through original compositions while revitalizing and showcasing the richness of Algerian folk music, including mesmerizing raï, chaâbi music, and other traditional genres. Integrating the mandolin’s enchanting melodies in a fresh and unprecedented approach epitomizes a daring fusion of tradition and innovation. This endeavour blends cultural heritage with adventurous musical exploration, delving into the underground scenes of Algiers, Oran, and beyond to unearth new sounds and inspirations.

Cécile Hummel

Switzerland > Egypt | Visual Arts

Cécile Hummel

Cécile Hummel studied fine arts in Basel and graduated with a teaching and art diploma. During and after her studies, she lived in Berlin and Paris. A scholarship from the Swiss Institute brought her to Rome, where she lived and worked from 1990 to 2000. Since 2001, she has taught as a guest lecturer or lecturer at various institutes, such as the Department of Architecture at ETH Zurich, the Lucerne School of Art, and design and the ZHDK Zurich. In 2021, she was a mentor in the TBA21 Academy programme, Ocean Space in Venice. In 2011, she initiated an exchange between artists from Switzerland and Sicily, which she curated with Francesco Pantaleone and Andrea Rocca. Cécile Hummel has been an artist-in-residence in various cities such as Cairo, Paris, Berlin and Montreal. She has travelled for projects in Turkey, Armenia, Persia and Iraq. She has presented her photographic and drawing installations in numerous institutions, museums and galleries in Switzerland and abroad. Most recently, her works were shown in Palermo (it), Haus der Kunst, 2020, in Aachen (D), 2020/21, at the Ludwigsforum and 2021 in Gibellina (it), at the “Image Festival”. Her work deals with the transfer of culture and knowledge in the Mediterranean region, the history of artefacts, and the people behind them. She is interested in images and their interpretations, the thoughts and composition of foreign and familiar cultures, and the rhizome-like network of relationships between people.

About the residency:

“The long shadows of the palm trees” This project is about artistic research and visual observations. The focus is on the change in the living conditions of plants in urban and rural areas due to climate change, lifestyle and environmental influences. On the other hand, a new awareness and a change in their significance and importance.

Using the palm, which is one of the oldest (and well-documented) useful plants Cecile would like to trace the change photographically and work in exchange with sources and field research on site. She would also like to realise a work on site and enter into dialogue with institutions and students.

Denizay Apusoglu & Jonas Kissling (Duo)

Switzerland > Egypt | Architecture

Denizay Apusoglu & Jonas Kissling

Industrial designer Denizay Apusoglu and architect Jonas Kissling founded Studio Eidola, in Zurich in 2020. It operates as a research and design studio focused on the material cycles of locally sourced minerals, emphasizing by-products and overlooked matter. The studio delves into site-specific material research and establishes ties with local industries to explore cultural imprints. They bridge material culture and industrial evolution, producing fresh interpretations. Their works begin with open-ended inquiries into raw materials’ life cycles and properties, influenced by geomorphic and artisanal traditions, resulting in distinct objects, spatial designs, or guiding manifestos.

About the residency:

“The symbiotic relationship between the built environment and the cultural lexicon in Egypt”

The research seeks a profound engagement with the architectural ethos and material narratives of the region. The Duo aims to immerse themselves in millennia-old building methods, dedicating substantial time to grasp the intricacies of material extraction sites, transportation networks, and their cultural ramifications. This endeavour aspires to enrich our practice and contribute meaningfully to post-contemporary material culture discourse. Cairo epitomizes an immersion into a dynamic confluence of ancient and contemporary elements, offering unparalleled insights into the intricate dialogue between geography and culture, thereby fostering a nuanced understanding and avant-garde approach to contextually resonant design.

Mina Squalli-Houssaïn

Switzerland > Algeria | Visual Arts

Mina Squalli-Houssaïn

Mina is a multidisciplinary Swiss artist based in Geneva. She completed a master’s program at HEAD Genève in 2023. Since 2018, she has exhibited in off-spaces and institutions such as the Centre d’art de Neuchâtel, Karma International in Zurich, Lodos and the Material Art Fair in Mexico City, Treize in Paris, and Liste Art Fair in Basel.

Mina’s work, primarily focused on sculpture and installation, explores the tension between the manufacturing processes of industrial and commercial objects and those derived from craft traditions. Central to her artistic practice is the exploration of alter-narratives.

By intertwining fiction, history, and archives, she employs layered storytelling strategies drawn from personal experiences, family history, collective memory, and grand narrative. Her practice aims to engage with strategies of resistance and vulnerability in the face of power structures related to colonial histories and patriarchy.

About the residency:

Mina Squalli-Houssaïni has been engaged in a long-term research process culminating in sculptural pieces and an ongoing body of text. This project delves into the absence of answers and the tactic of oblivion, strategies historically used to silence emancipation and militant movements during the Algerian War of Independence, after the October 17, 1961, massacre, and
following the murder of Ali Mécili. The duty of archives and memory remains crucial today, and the idea of counter-investigation and narrative restoration serves as a form of reparation.

During her residency in Algiers, Mina will enrich this project with on-site research, revisiting significant locations connected to these intertwined stories. Building on this branching work, she aims to continue her research, intertwining fiction, history, and archives.

Lucas Cantori

Switzerland > Morocco | Visual Arts

Lucas Cantori

L. M. Cantori is a publisher, author, and founder of the publishing house Clinamen and the independent art space One Gee in Fog, both in Geneva. Since 2022, he runs the artist residency Rita in Italy. Among the books he has edited are Daring Shifts, a collection of science fiction sorts, Concours de larmes by Marvin M’toumo, étranges nébuleuses by Rita al-hajj, and the upcoming magazine SWISS weird & magic.

About the residency:

“Name Change” is a project exploring the double notion of “name change” and “self-erasure” through the understanding of both the way a place like Morocco relates to the now absence of (the Jewish) community that has been part of its history for millennia, and the approach of persons in Switzerland and Europe whom have been, at least partly, disconnected from their North-African background, at a larger scale (Arab-Jewish, Kabyle, Amazigh, Muslim, etc).

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