Arts Africa

2012-2014 New Media, 2015-2016 Social Design, 2017 Theater Workshop Migration


New Media: video-film, installations, site-specific performance

One of the interesting developments of the series of workshops between 2005-2012 was the prominent discovery of the personal and bodily presence of the performer and his story, the importance of the location where the performance took place, telling its own social history, and the use of visual objects to support these story-telling. The availability of the material on the internet and the use of new mediating techniques changed the global art-scene and the communication with the audience.


Theatre became more visual, its performers presenting not only words but also worlds. Video-images became part of the design and the impact of the performance: the scenery produced meaning as an installation. The crossover of art-disciplines was practised in a series of workshops that brought together young artist and teachers from the College of Visual and Applied Arts, the College of Music and Drama, the Artists Union, and staff and students from El Ahfad University for Women.


The first workshop, Video-art, in October 2012 was curated by Jude Anogwih, from Lagos, Nigeria. He taught the making of a short video film in a step by step strategy choosing a theme as a starting point, collecting images, editing, words, sound, music. Twenty participants produced twenty films. See films under Blue Nile Forum. Download the curatorial statement here.














The second workshop brought Unathi Segenu from South Africa, Cape-town. He explained the social and artistic function of the film and installations and produced a big show in the Ali Mahdi Art Centre in February 2013.













The site-specific performance workshop took place in April 2013 on the campus of El Ahfad University. Performing artist Ms Ato Malinda from Kenya was invited to stimulate the workshop site-specific performance. This performance involved a personal reflection of the participants on their life on the campus, and the history of the campus as told by the space, architecture and buildings. Six participants brought the audience all over the campus and  while telling its history, offered personal performances that quite surprised everybody. Ato also made the observation that “there is a need and a void of conceptual performance in Sudan. The participants had voracity for knowledge and were able to apply the new insights to their work. It is likely that they would benefit from more such workshops”.

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2015-2016: Social Design 


Pilot workshop Social Design :

Re-framing communication and relation in social contexts.


“Artists and designers have a natural desire to have a transformative (positive) impact on society. In this way they are social. In design and art we are now talking more and more about social design. However art education focuses traditionally on the artistic autonomous, aesthetic practice.

How do we prepare Art academies and Universities for such practices?

The workshop has to develop a practise based learning model to address this problem.

It works through the process of trial and error, thinking through design, critical reflection on design and re-thinking the new conditions needed to be able to address some of the major problems in our societies today. In this constructive way we help artists, designers and scientists to be able to collaborate with this society in a more responsible way.

Social design is a way of doing this. Designers and artists can be trained to start developing a new set of tools and skills to focus more on alternative ways of communication through art and design.

The workshop will be about new forms of interaction and togetherness in art, design and science. The workshop wants to find out what the researcher and young professional in Sudan may need for their future practises and more important how to realise these objectives. We have to build the bridge on which we are standing, together. “


The aim:


Since some years it has become apparent that social and political organizations are in great need of a new approach to social problems.

More and younger graduates are eager to mobilize their talents for social relevant projects they are not just designers who are accustomed to working on commission, but also artists trained at their Art-Colleges and young academics and professionals, who want to locate their activities in a social context, in a direct relationship with public and private parties.


Their aim is not marketing autonomous critical art but to design strategies in which social relations can be discussed in a critical way.

In ‘relational’ designing creativity moves from the inner space of the designer to involvement with the end-users. With this fundamentally democratic gesture creativity no longer lies within individuals but between them.




















Sudan University, for Science and Technology (Scientific research Deanship), with Arts Academy Utrecht (HKU), and No Academy, Laboratory for Art and Society, AlFaisal Cultural Centre, Goethe Institute, and Arts Africa/Netherland have  planned a pilot workshop on Art and Society




Theater Workshop Migration: Frances Sanders and the Mime Method


Foundation Arts Africa in collaboration with the Cultural Center of Faisal Bank (Khartoum), the Ministry of Culture, Rabie Yusuf Alhassan, theater-director and Haythem Khairy, leader of the Sudanese theater group presented a workshop on How to Build  a Theater Performance from scratch.

The theme was Migration. The workshop continued over nearly three weeks: from December 22 till January 8. From The Netherlands came Frances Sanders, director, theater-maker and professor the the Education Department of the Theater School in Amsterdam.


She based her training method on the new vision on mime of famous French mime-artist and master  Etienne Decroux (1898-1992) who developed his approach based on a model consisting of 8 archetypes, 4 elements, 6 emotions, and 7 energies.

Dr Frances started with the training of expressing the archetypes: basic gestures and attitudes of the King, the Queen, the Hunter, the Fool, the Twister, the Mother, an Innocent Girl and the Vamp.

The next layer of expression would be Emotions: anger, wonder, disgust, fear, happiness and sadness.


The four elements consisted of water, fire, earth and air. Energies then fed the tensions in movement and body: rhytmic, economic, dramatic, contraction, hyper-contraction, floating and exhausted energy.


Professor Frances supported and underlined the Decroux approach of making theater which mainly consists of movement and dance, music and songs with  a minimum in dialogue. Since the performance would take place in a big park it was clear spoken language had small change to be understood by the audience.


There were more than twenty participants from different art fields. While practising the archetypes they were provided with knowledge about movements, emotions and the energy modes as well as working with masks that forced them to adept to sex and aged of the artificial faces..

The participants could choose from the wide range of archetypes, movement and attitudes to build up a theatrical character without the need of dialog. The training showed that  the process of building a performance could be simple, clear and enjoyable. It became clear that in building a theatrical character one should put in mind that there are many components to be considered. The elements include appearance, thoughts and emotion.


For me, having been trained in the College of Music and Drama, it was a very enriching experience as this workshop provided me with the knowledge to make a multi-dimensional theater characters consisting of the different layers of pure physical expression that the body can master. The result was a not-personal unity of style as if the group had had the same experiences that showed on the body.  


While the participants were being trained to master the archetypes and other essential elements of building the character, they were of course at the same time developing a performance to be shown on the last night of the workshop. Base on the migration theme we saw a group in slow movement walking, carrying big packages getting tired, resting, having nightmares, quarreling, reaching out the find a safe place to stay.


The performance started later in the evening in the public park. Visitors of the park followed the group when they slow marched towards a  lighted podium. It was an audience of men, women, children, leaving their picnics, wanting to know what was happening, who was singing, who moved so slowly nearly giving up and staying behind.


For the participants in the workshop it was a life time experience as they told me. They learned to make theater which is simple but still breathtaking.


Mohamed Mustafa





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