About the project

Kayfa-ta is the beginning of a sentence. When spoken, the listeners assume that there will be a continuation; a complement or closure. They await. We explain: Kayfa-ta is a non- profit Arabic publishing initiative that uses the popular form of how-to manuals (how=kayfa, to=ta) to respond to some of today’s pertinent needs; be they skills, thoughts, sensibilities, emotions, tools or other. The manuals are in Arabic, a language that is short on publishing, and has 295m native-speakers.

As artists and cultural producers, we believe in the relevance and need for various perspectives and languages, and that these languages are not, or need not be, as exclusive or isolated as they sometimes are in the art world. One of the impetuses for this project is to attempt a collapsing of some of the distance between art and non art, its producers and receivers, by bringing the voices and perspective of a range of producers, in an accessible form, to a shared platform, wider audiences, accessible places (e.g. newsstands) and prices (e.g. US2$); facilitated by fundraising and cost-effectiveness. The popular vehicle of How-to books is our act of mediation, or a ‘Trojan horse’.

Everyday we express a need to think differently about the tools that we have, the bodies that we inhabit, the houses, communities, geographies and histories that shape and are shaped by us. While how-to’s are most commonly used as a strict transmitter of technical and practical knowledge, we aim to commission and publish manuals that attempt to open up a space for a different kind of reading and readership within this technical and didactic genre. We would like to place this series of monographs in the space between technical and reflective, everyday and speculative, instructional and intuitive, base and poetic, where art and life borrow from each other, in the space of a bookstore or a newspaper-stand, and between the needs of today and tomorrow.

The project aims to indirectly but cumulatively bring lateral, associative, creative subjects as well as modes of thinking and knowledge to the fore. Subject matter and content for new issues will be based on the research of the editors. Periodically, Kayfa-ta approaches practitioners [(artists, theorists, inventors, urbanists, architects, farmers, filmmakers,writers like Haytham El-Wardany (Egyptian, writer), Motaz Attalla and Waleed Musharraf (Egyptian, Harvard laureate, writer, education researcher and comedian) and Musharraf (Sudanese/Egyptian, writer and PhD laureate)] and discuss with them the urgency of the moment and the issues/situations that would benefit from a specific manual. We provide the logistic and editorial support, as well as seek funding for selected manuals. The first under consideration is:

A monograph that would be published every four months from 2013 to 2016. Selling is the protocol for putting these publications onto newsstands and bookstore shelves as opposed to give-aways in art projects. A nominal price shall be placed on the cover, yet since this is a non-profit project, sellers can keep the revenue, to encourage better distribution for the publications.kayfa-ta.com extends the space of the project with information on the initiative, concepts and tendencies, excerpts from the monographs, while also calling the audience to post selected how-tos, videos or other content that share perceptive readings of/for our present. The project publishes mainly in Arabic, yet editions in other languages can be made upon invitation by other projects/institutions.

About the artist

The artistic practice of Maha Maamoun (Egypt) and Ala Younis (Jordan) is primarily concerned with deconstructing and re-imagining iconic and populist visual representations from mainstream Middle Eastern culture.