Experiencing a cabaret night at home, like Cairo KitKat Club, leaves a lot to be desired: never have I missed so greatly nightlife’s convivial atmospherics — clinking cocktail glassware and conversational snippets overheard from a nearby table or banquette. Yes, the conditions of the pandemic are such that theaters, cabarets, and nightclubs remain shuttered to the public. So it would be cruelly unfair to fully blame HaRaKa Platform, a Cairo-based international platform for performance and movement-based research in Egypt and the Arab region, for this absence. Still, I’ve seen better drag shows via Instagram Live and Twitch, which have navigated these cross-platform technicalities with a fraction of the institutional support this Zoom cabaret got from co-presenter Goethe-Institut New York.
Cairo KitKat Club aims to retell the history of cabaret through the story of Egypt’s KitKat Club, a now-demolished 18th-century Cairo nightclub. Through a series of recorded video performances, viewers are transported between the present and the past, with performers, academics, and yes, even a handmade belly dancer doll reflecting on how nightlife performance has been shaped by borders and pandemics; Berlin’s debaucherous KitKatClub, where one of the performances was staged, is now a rapid COVID-19 testing site.
While I quite liked the tongue-in-cheek PPE stripteases and desktop screen scrolling of declassified M15 files, I resented how distracting it was to watch these video performances with a VLC media player not set in theatre/full screen mode. This was a shame, since a livestream format would technically lend itself greatly to a multimedia project such as this one. So transportive this was not, especially since many of the video performances had a pixelated quality harkening back to mid-2000s YouTube aesthetics, and the organizers failed to consider how audiences at home could interact. (Joe’s Pub, for instance, has been streaming cabaret performances via their YouTube channel, where viewers and artists are encouraged to chat.)
At the end of the performance, master of ceremonies/Cairo KitKat Club director Adham Hafez cheekily quipped, “good thing about Zoom is you can’t throw tomatoes at me!” He’s lucky I took a deep breath, and refrained from keyboard smashing a series of tomato emojis at him.
Cairo KitKat Club continues with a final presentation via Zoom at 5pm EST today, December 14. The online cabaret was directed by Adham Hafez and is presented by HaRaKa Platform, in partnership with Goethe-Institut New York and La Mama Theatre.
Did You Know These Museums Were Free for New Yorkers?
The “Free Admission” campaign is advocating to make ticket pricing information more transparent to visitors, who may be confused or misled by institutions’ language.
AI Images Visualizing Trump’s Arrest Send Internet Into a Frenzy
The pictures, created using Midjourney, depict the former president’s greatest fantasy: being dragged away by police in front of the cameras.
Haggerty Museum of Art Presents Tomás Saraceno in Dialogue With Dr. Somesh Roy
The artist and researcher will explore soot’s effects on climate change and public health in this online conversation.
Some AI Artworks Now Eligible for Copyright
New guidance from the US Copyright Office sets some policies around AI-generated images.
NYC Hispanic Society Workers to Strike Indefinitely
One worker said the museum’s “skeletal” workforce bars the institution from functioning to its potential.
McKnight Visual Artist Fellows Discussion Series at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
The series features 2021 Fellows David Bowen, Mara Duvra, Rotem Tamir, Ben Moren, and Dyani White Hawk in conversation with renowned curators and critics.
In Search of Inclusive South Asian Futurisms
We have been dangerously siloed for far too long by colonial constructs of race, nation, and time that separate, divide, and deny us our very being.
What Do Shtreimels and Cowboy Hats Have in Common?
A chance meeting on the subway introduced photographer Francesca Magnani to the multicultural world of Brooklyn milliner Richard Faison.
Nevada Museum of Art Presents Adaline Kent: The Click of Authenticity
For the first time in nearly 60 years, the innovative yet under-recognized artist is the subject of a retrospective exhibition. On view in Reno, Nevada.
Richard Hull Completes the Picture
Once known for his abstracted portraits, the Chicago artist is now exploring new directions.
You Too Can Have Your Art on a Postage Stamp
The process isn’t complicated, and thousands of people submit themselves for the talent pool every year.
The Public Theater in NYC Presents Plays for the Plague Year
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’s theatrical concert chronicles the 2020 lockdown and the hope and perseverance that emerged from it.
Bobby Wilson Combats Indigenous Stereotypes Through Humor
The artist-performer’s career undulates, ever so gracefully, across multiple mediums and registers of generational pain, healing laughter, and Indigenous joy.
Rare 19th-Century Silhouette Album’s Secrets Unlocked
Traveling portrait artist William Bache’s album depicts famous figures like Thomas Jefferson as well as people whose identity was previously unknown.