The opening of conversation21, the MEC’s first art festival, generously sponsored by the LSE Annual Fund, is just days away and we are getting excited here at the Centre. For months, we’ve been on a wild hunt for young photographers, musicians and filmmakers from the Middle East and North Africa. That’s led us all over the place, virtually and actually, meeting friends of friends (of friends), connecting with other organisations and people looking to promote young voices from the region — folks like the writer and editor Malu Halasa  and Dr Dina Matar at SOAS and many others from the London MENA Film Festival, Future Shorts, Arts Canteen, Momo and beyond.

Suffice it to say, we’re really looking forward to sharing the work of the artists, photographers, filmmakers and others who have shared their work with us. By some accounts, the majority of  the Middle East and North African population today is under 30 years old, yet it’s not often we hear their voices. That’s the whole idea behind the festival: their voices, we hope, will start up a conversation that you, as a viewer, will continue, both here in London and also with the artists themselves. We’ve designated #LSE21 as the fest-tag and will be providing at each event, when possible, the Twitter names of the artists. In turn, we’ve asked the artists to keep tabs on their Tweets. Let the conversations begin.

Here’s a quick festival cheat sheet:

Monday 19 November conversation21/image opens
Time: Monday – Friday, 10 am to 8 pm, until Friday 7 December.
Where: LSE’s Atrium Gallery located in the Old Building on Houghton Street.

Tuesday 20 November — conversation21/image opening cocktail reception.
Time: 630 to 730 pm
Where: LSE’s Atrium Gallery located in the Old Building on Houghton Street.
RSVP required to attend

Friday 23 Novemberconversation21/motion, a night of short films curated by Future Shorts and inspired by their recent event at #COMETOGETHER. A discussion with visual culture expert Dr Nadia Mounajjed and others will follow. 
Time: 7 pm to 9 pm
Where: Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, LSE

Thursday 29 Novemberconversation21/sound, a concert featuring Youssra El-Hawary and Tamer Abu Ghazaleh
Time: Doors open at 7:30pm; Concert starts at 8pm
Where: The Quad, LSE Students Union, East Building located on Houghton Street
Details: Free drinks for first 100 people in the door

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