A bright spacious place located in Kuwait’s vibrant industrial area and in less than a year became one of the country’s pioneer cultural venues! Don’t be too surprised because this new center introduced international successful exhibitions, exposed local talented artists and supported any strong idea by transferring it into a reality, thanks to solid strategy and a dedicated team, CAP certainly is a benchmark in Kuwait art scene and has much more to give!
CAP is not a traditional exhibition center or a gallery, it is an interactive space for art lovers and to understand this new concept, Al Mahha met CAP Director and artist Abed Al Kadiri who generously shared more than the concept, upcoming plans and how you can be part of this “dream-coming-true” space.
Al Mahha (AM): In the beginning let’s explain to the readers what is CAP?!
Abed Al Kadiri (AK): CAP stands for Contemporary Art Platform, a nonprofit cultural center founded in September 2011 aims to provide more opportunities for art education and exchange between Kuwait and the rest of the world. It started as a dream, a big one, turned into a developing reality. I can tell you in the beginning this idea was not clear to people and I was following it up as a person involved in art movement in Kuwait. I thought of cooperating with them when I was working in FA gallery, because supporting a non-profitable cultural center in a must and I feel its importance not only as a gallery manager but also as an artist. Now being part of CAP, I feel I have a bigger responsibility toward it and of course glad I am.
AM: How does CAP stands out from other cultural centers in Kuwait?
AK: CAP is not a traditional exhibition place it is a cultural venue. Therefore, we carefully select events and exhibitions CAP hosts because we aim -as I said- to support and boost the Kuwaiti contemporary art scene by collaborating with international galleries, bringing successful regional exhibitions such as “Methods to the Madness” , “Beirut II” and “The Other Resurrection”. Moreover we made sure the space sets to be a unique art hub in Kuwait to maximize the experience where it includes a library, an artist residency area, workshop area, gift shop and of course the showcasing area.
AM: So far, most exhibitions are group shows, why is that?!
AK: We focus on group exhibition to show diversity and different artists approaches of one theme.
AM: How does CAP cover the costs of events when it is a nonprofit center?!
AK: So far the only funder is Amer Al Huneidi, the owner of CAP. However, because we want people to be involved closely we thought of seeking new methods to fund our activities; such as sponsors from Government and Private sectors, individual sponsors and CAP Membership Club where members pay annual fee of KD35 to get special discounts at the workshops, film screening, gift shop and have a private pre-opening tour to exhibitions.
AM: What is the target number of members and when will applying starts??
AK: We seek to achieve 150 members yearly and starting from this week will accept applicants from any age, it is opened to everyone. The more members we have the more events we can organize and the more support we will provide to emerging artists and talents through workshops, lectures and of course exhibitions.
A Nonprofit Cultural Center
AM: You mentioned earlier that the concept of a nonprofit center was not clear especially that I recall in some exhibitions CAP hosted when it launched artworks were sold, how do you explain that as CAP is a nonprofit center?
AK: Let me make it clear that there is a possibility of selling artworks in any nonprofit cultural center, and if it was done in collaboration with a gallery they take a percentage of it; while when CAP hosted a solo exhibition and some artworks were sold, we didn’t take any percentage of the profit. If we decided to take a percentage from any upcoming exhibition it will be to cover other costs like workshops or lectures, and only for galleries and patrons.
AM: Why is CAP hosting foreign exhibitions more than local ones?
AK: First of all, Art has no nationality and there should not be any differences between for example a Kuwaiti or Lebanese in any art scene we are presenting an experience. Secondly, local artists are given support from government institutions whether from the The National Council for Culture, Art and Letter or Kuwait Formative Arts Association, in the same time there isn’t a strong exposure to international art scenes because Kuwait doesn’t host an Art Fair, and the contemporary art in Kuwait is not strong due to the lack of Fine Art colleges and universities.
That being said, we feel in CAP that we have a commitment to open the door for local talents who can’t make it to every biennale and fair to witness foreign art experiences and interact with it. Not to mention that some contemporary artworks like video installation are normally adopted by private museums and require bigger spaces, which is provided in CAP.
AM: What do you think of the contemporary art scene in Kuwait?
AK: Unfortunately it is very modest, it exists but not as strong as it should be. I ask myself why… some say it is political or social but I believe it is the lack of art schools and institutions which is exactly what emerging artists need to nourish their knowledge. I personally hope to see more interest in art education because there is a huge amount of talent need to put on the right track and support.
AM: What are the coming up events in CAP?!
Abed Al Kadiri: There is a lot going on that people don’t want to miss! The British Council choose CAP to host “Out of Britain” on September 17th a huge exhibition focuses of UK landscape artworks for the past 100 years, all artworks are part of The British Council collection and estimated in 6 million pounds. On the sideline of the 40 days event there will be workshops, lectures, schools trip to CAP and a residency program.
CAP will also host “Peace One Day” a one day charity event includes a group exhibition, music performance and other activities on Friday, September 21st in CAP Warehouse.
Another interesting exhibition is the 1st “Collectors from Kuwait” in November 2012 which we hope becomes an annual event. The exhibition features private collections from different important Kuwaiti collectors as an appreciation of their endless passion and ongoing support to the art scene also to encourage people to become collectors and show them the importance and beauty of that. “Collectors from Kuwait” is like an interaction between collectors and viewers.
Also in November 28th CAP will host JAMM Annual Auction, following it European Sculpture exhibition in December 2012 and we conclude this year in a collaboration with Art Sawa Gallery (Dubai) “Dress Code”, an exhibition of established artists from the middle east who created a collection of work of art /dresses that reflects the artist’s unique style and his artistic message on the clothing as the reflection of his/her society and critical thoughts on it. In 2013 we are planning to have female photographers exhibition, Kuwait-based artists competition.
AM: You mentioned a residency program which is something new in Kuwait, can you tell us more about it?
AK: The residency program is providing a space for an artist to produce a commissioned piece of art in 2 – 3 months. We are planning to launch it alongside “Out of Britain” where british artists will work with artists based in Kuwait on paintings or sculptures then exhibit them in a separate show later on this year.
AM: Any final thing you like to say to Al Mahha readers?
AK: I’d like to thank you for this interview and as I mentioned earlier CAP is a continues dynamic process and I hope it doesn’t stop and gets support it deserves.
Abed Al Kadiri is an established Lebanese artist, journalist and former gallery manager in FA Gallery – Kuwait. He graduated in 2006 from Lebanese University – faculty of Fine Arts and had successful solo & group exhibitions in Beirut, Kuwait and Istanbul; “Abou Ghreib” in 2006 , “In The Corner” in 2008 , “Identity Turbulences” in 2011 just to name a few. His also were also exhibited in Beirut Art Fair 2011 and Istanbul Art Fair 2011.