For 22 years in succession, the annual Aswan International Sculpture Symposium (AISS) has been held at the Open-Air Museum in Aswan; a site rich in natural beauty and in ancient Egyptian monuments.
The open Air Museum covers 10 feddans on a hilltop overlooking Lake Nasser and Philae Temple. Since its establishment, the museum displays all sculptures that were executed during previous rounds of the symposium.
Aswan province has hosted the symposium since it began in 1996 at the hands of veteran Egyptian sculptor Adam Henein, financed by the Culture Ministry. But each year sees a new crop of artists of various nationalities and different styles. This year’s symposium director was a new face, artist Nagy Farid, who succeeding Henein as curator.
The 2017 symposium took place from 21 January till 5 March. It saw the participation of 15 artists—ten Egyptians and five foreign: Hiroyuki Asakawa from Japan, Liu Yang from China, Valerian Jikia from Georgia, Klaus Hunsicker from Germany and Jose Carlos Millan from Spain.
In an initiative to have a new generation of sculptors that would proudly represent Egypt in upcoming symposiums, this year’s event hosted some 40 Egyptian artists under the age of 35, fresh graduates of Egypt’s art schools, as well as another six beginner sculptors training on granite for the first time.
Mr Farid explained how the participants were selected. “They are chosen according to a process of evaluation and consultation by the symposium’s jury, in order to have the best sculptors and achieve distinguished artworks.”
The symposium’s sculptures, according to Farid, are later presented to Egypt’s different governorates; so far these have included Cairo, Alexandria, Giza, Sharm al-Sheikh and Mansoura, where the sculptures are given place of honour in prominent sites such as main squares. Recently, sculptures were given to the Media City at the west Cairo satellite town of 6th October City.
The Aswan Symposium was created with a aim of reviving the art of sculpting in hard stone, particularly granite, which is already available in Aswan, and from which came all the ancient Egyptian granite sculptures and monuments. Worth noting is that the word “symposium” literally means a long meeting; the duration of the Aswan symposium is almost two months during which sculptors exchange experience, visions, and various techniques no matter what their trends are.
18 March 2017