Public art: Mahatat kick off first tour in Egypt's Mansoura

An art initiative focusing on public performances is taking its show on the road to four Egyptian cities, starting with Mansoura.

Mahatat for Contemporary Art, a Cairo-based art initiative that hosts artistic projects in public spaces, started their first tour across four Egyptian cities: Mansoura, Damietta, Port Said and Cairo. The tour is part of a Mahatat's long-term project entitled Art of Transit, involving professional artists who perform in public spaces as a form of artistic intervention.

The first tour includes Abo Karim marching band (a sub-project of the Oscarisma troupe), which features nine musicians and percussionists playing instruments specially designed for public space performance. Joining them is the El-Kousha puppet theatre troupe, known for performing with giant puppets in public spaces including festivals and even protests.

In Mansoura, the Mahatat crew attracted the attention of audiences from the moment they began preparing the large size puppets that are brought on pick-up trucks.

People also gathered when the marching band walked through the city's main streets.

"Families are in balconies watching the march," Mahatat tweeted during the performance. The show lasted over 30 minutes and showcased the puppets in two locations.

As people kept joining the parade, the crowd eventually reached over 500 people, who attended the final stage of the performance, according to Mahatat.

Heba El-Sheikh, Mahatat's executive director, told Ahram Online that she was happy with the show.

"We achieved our first goal in Mansoura and proved that when people are offered interesting entertainment or art, they are happy to watch or even join the activities. The atmosphere was contagious," she said.

On Friday 10 October, Mahatat will visit Port Said where two processions and shows will take place, one at the Child Garden (behind the bazaar) at 4pm and another at Hay Al-Zohor at 6pm.

Damietta will be Mahatat's stop on Saturday 11 October, with shows taking place in the city centre at 4pm, followed by Domiat Gedida at 6pm.

The final stop of the first tour will take place in Cairo on Monday 12 October, with a parade crossing the streets of Manial.