When the Gulbenkian Program Next Future began in 2009, it was really focused on the cultural dimension and artistic players of the current African, Latin American and Caribbean countries, relative with European cities and creators. No one would imagine that just three years afterwards the revolutionary movements in North Africa and in the Middle East would take place. And yet this burst of rebellion, of longing for freedom and democracy not only rocked these countries with immediate consequences in terms of regime changes as it shook the world and drew attention to populations, creators, policy-makers in these regions where there were so much ignorance to add to so many clichés, mostly negative. Only a year has passed, many social upheavals have occurred and many others will occur regardless of a more pessimistic view, even scepticism, or even in some cases of an excessive optimism and belief. We, who live in this present time are privileged witnesses and should be aware of what goes on listening, reading, studying, talking to the interlocutors in this process, the Egyptians, Tunisians, Syrians, Moroccans, Algerians, etc.. In the particular case of the Next Future Program, the creators of these regions are fundamental interlocutors being locals or just part of the Diaspora. Therefore within the programming of the Festival of Literature and Thought of North Africa we will talk and listen to creators, curators, artists on the state of the arts in these countries, to better know and better understand ourselves.
António Pinto Ribeiro
Chief Curator of Gulbenkian Program Next Future