Our history, our values
Post-revolutionary Tunisia was the point of departure for the creation of Arts Cabinet.
In 2012, in Tunis, in the aftermath of the revolution, I saw artists and cultural communities at the forefront of re-thinking the relationships between art, context, and social change. I witnessed how artistic inquiry into critical issues was a stimulus to free and creative exchange. I engaged in events – public and closed - which confirmed that enquiry through art had the power to bring people together and forge common ground about past and present, histories, places and concerns. New ways of seeing and understanding the world were rapidly emerging through an unprecedented and spontaneous proliferation of actions and experiments that brought artists, thinkers, intellectuals, activists and others together to test potential ideas for a new future.
From 2013 to 2015, in association with an active network of collaborators and supporters, I engaged with partners across the Middle East, North Africa (MENA) and Europe to identify what type of initiative was needed to support the creative dynamism that had emerged in North Africa in the post-revolutionary years.
It became clear that an alternative approach was needed, one that had the ability and independence to rise above the traditional models of exchange. The imperative was to ensure non-instrumentalised, forward-looking and open engagement, as an alternative way to build relationships between people, ideas and places.
It also became clear that to deliver this approach, a new type of structure needed to be formed: one which could operate nomadically and transnationally, flexibly and independently. The essential role of such a structure would be to create conditions for stimulating inquiry and in time become a solid platform where artists and researchers could be free to collaborate, generate critical thinking, form independent projects, interrogate the current state of things, and imagine how the world might be other than it is.
Arts Cabinet was therefore formed in 2016 as an independent organisation, registered as a not for profit Charity in England, with the mission to support and enable free inquiry, forge collaboration between artists, researchers and communities of interest, and educate through art by making knowledge accessible for the public benefit.
In order to do this, we continue to be independent and committed to the promotion of the value of free, un-instrumentalised artistic enquiry.
Svetlana Sequeira Costa