The Wonder Box
Traveling Peep show
April - May 2014
Mahatat, a Cairo-based initiative for “community art” and art in public spaces, brought together a group of artists, technologists, architects, musicians, and storytellers to revive the bygone traveling peep show genre in Egypt. “The Wonder Box,” which toured Cairo’s streets this summer and will travel to the Delta region next year, presents the stories of local cab and microbus drivers who are fictionalized to become contemporary fairytale heroes.
The mastermind behind reproducing the wonder boxes was filmmaker Aida El Kashef. In addition to working with Mahatat, she partnered with musicians Abdallah Abozekry and Shadi El Hosseiny, artists Maya Gewily and Youssef Faltas, storytellers Laila Samy and Ahmed Mostafa, and architects Manar Moursi and Mohamed Hassan. The group also collaborated with creative technologist Yasmin El Ayat, who outfitted two unique boxes with mobile video screens.
The first looks like a futuristic spaceship; the second is a makeshift ice cream cart. Peeping through the holes, passersby can view eight stories unfolding with imaginative characters such as dragons and mermaids.
Medrar.TV met with Ayat, Hosseiny, and Gewily at Mahatat’s office to learn about how the collaboration unfolded and the techniques they used to create peep shows that are suitable for today’s streets. Mahatat will publish detailed documentation of the techniques that were used in the creation of the two boxes in a forthcoming manual.
Editor`s note: The Cairo Observer recently highlighted the project with a detailed account by contributing architect Manar Moursi, found here.
[This video was produced by Medrar TV and is featured in partnership with Jadaliyya Culture.]