Reuters reports on the opening of a new museum of Contemporary art in war-torn Algiers:
A new modern art museum in Algiers aims to spearhead cultural renewal in a city where only 10 years ago artists were targets for assassins. A state of emergency shoved artistic life to the margins in the 1990s as Islamic insurgents battled government forces and massacres, bombings and murders traumatized the population. [ . . . ] “To be honest, I cannot really identify with these paintings, but it is art and it is here,” said IT sales manager Ghomrassane Bouayed. “Art and war cannot co-exist.” [ . . . ] For [Museum Director Mohammed] Djehiche, the museum’s very existence shows how far the bustling Mediterranean port city has come in a short time. In the 1990s, exhibitions were rare and were often held in the lobbies of luxury hotels ringed by tight security.
“Culture was targeted because it represented, in a way, the hope of life and therefore had to be destroyed,” said Djehiche. “Luckily they did not achieve their goal.” [ . . . ] Algiers city officials are hoping for a new start after the city of 3.5 million was made Arab Capital of Culture in 2007. That year saw around 40 art exhibitions, 60 films and 30 plays. Algerian artists are no longer the target of gunmen but some see a new threat from an upsurge in traditionalism and religious conservatism across the Arab world.