March 8, 2007

Portrait Monthly Birthday

Portrait is a Gallery in Cairo that also publishes a magazine. The Portrait magazine is one year old. Happy Birthday.

If I thoroughly enjoyed the works of the founder of that gallery, my opinion about the magazine and about the exhibitions I saw there is a bit on the reserved side.
To start off, it bothers me that the whole institution is a copycat of the Institutionalized artistic scene, meaning that it has lots of intricate relations with people who are either from within the Governmental circle of Art (Ministry of Culture), or are very much trying to belong to it. The editorial policy of the magazine tends to irritate by its choice of articles, many being pedantic while being clearly flirting with the people in charge. Also some articles are really badly written and would need extensive editing.
An interesting feature disappeared two issues ago, namely the space reserved to the works of children of school age. It was replaced by articles in English that might be interesting from the point of view of international marketing for Egyptian art.
There are also many other critiques that can be lavishly showered on the magazine. The printing, although having gone better in its one year of existence, still could be much improved.
The advertisements within the magazine also have to be rethought as it is quite strange for an art magazine to show the ugly National Paints ads on their back cover. It is understood that to be able to publish art magazines, funds are needed and have to be raised, but maybe an artistic consultant could explain to the advertising companies that those ads act as a double blow to both the magazine and the company that insists on using its international billboard campaign in an art magazine. An idea would be to publish works of art with the company logo attached to it. Or even better, to reinstall the work of children in a page offered by a sponsor, logo and even a short advertising included. Another idea for finding sponsors might be to reach out to the many national and foreign culture centers scattered around.
Finally, it is regrettable that the listing of museums and galleries (even if incomplete) that was included in the first 3 issues has disappeared.

In spite of all this, the fact remains that the efforts involved in the magazine are to be encouraged and applauded. After all any 1 year old has to be considered as a toddler.

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