B7L9 is on a Mission to Democratise Art in Tunisia

An art space by artists, for artists

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Since the Arab Spring, Tunisia’s creative scene has seen immense growth. And this year, with the launch of independent art space B7L9, artists finally have a place to call home, and no, it’s not in the capital’s posh La Marsa neighbourhood.

In a surprising (but intentional) move, the Kamel Lazaar Foundation, the organisation behind the space, opened up the establishment in the heart of one of Tunis’s most impoverished neighbourhoods, Bhar Lazreg, bringing art to locals in a way that’s never been done before.

And for its inaugural exhibition, the democratisation of art is the primary focus. Borrowing its name from The Doors’ song Moonlight Drive, the exhibition, entitled Climbing Through the Tide, brings together artists of all disciplines from across the region to display their work. Curated by Basak Senova, the show gives a deep look inside the work of everyone from Tunisian artist and architect Younes Ben Slimane to Iranian filmmaker Negar Tahsili.

Following a successful run over the course of the month, the Kamal Lazaar Foundation is now planning to bring some of the art world’s biggest names to mark the end of the show with a series of panel discussions which are due to run over the weekend.

Starting on June 7, the show’s curator Basak Senova is set to open the talks with artist and commissioner Yane Calovski, delving deep into her curatorial approach. Artists Ramesch Daha and Nisrine Boukhari will then go on to give their take on creative processes and research-based practices in a panel moderated by writer Jonatan Habib Engqvist.

Lina Lazaar, the Vice President of Kamel Lazaar Foundation, will follow as moderator in a discussion on the democratisation of culture held by, Tunisia’s former Minister of Culture and current CEO of Altissimo Consulting alongside historian Iheb Guermazi.

Austrian artist, Barbara Putz-Pleko will then join curator and art critic Sylvie Fortin in a discussion on cultural exchanges and geography on June 8. Artists Rafram Hadad and Haythem Achour close out the program with a conversation surrounding the transformation of the Mediterranean into an art hub.

Climbing Through the Tide: Finissage, June 7 – 8, B7L9, Bhar Lazreg, Tunis

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