Anthony Koithra

Coastline of forever

Day 8 was special. We arrived in Sousse on a Friday afternoon, when a lot of the city closes early. One of the places that was open, and one of only two places that came up when Laura Fox had searched for contemporary art in Sousse, was Elbirou Art Gallery – so that was our first stop.

There we met Karim Sghaier – who was so friendly and knowledgeable that we immediately felt like old friends. He showed us a number of installations he had curated through Utopies Visuelles (UV), an initiative to revitalize urban areas through art. By commissioning art in, and on, older abandoned buildings the initiative attracts art lovers, tourists, and new businesses to these parts of the city.

Laura, ever my tireless promoter, told Karim I was an artist and he quickly invited me to do a piece around the 2022 UV theme of water. The collection already had several beautiful pieces by amazing artists and this was a huge honor, and a testament to Karim’s openness and kindness. Over a glass of wine, Laura and I came up with 3 concepts, and Karim gravitated towards the stylized Tunisian coastline, with a sea populated by the Berber symbol for ships. As we have traveled, we’ve been struck by the country’s relationship to the sea – through epochs of exploration and conquest, through to the waves of immigration today.

The next day, with supplies provided by Karim, we headed to the site and executed the work in ~2.5 hours. We gathered a little audience, from nearby apartments, and passers-by who shouted interpretations and critiques.
Houssem Bouzamoucha and Amine Frad, local students, came by to help too.

The whole thing came together so quickly and easily, in less than 24 hours, that it was hard to believe it was happening – but as Karim says, “things are easy, when we make them easy”. I am so grateful for the opportunity and so impressed at Karim’s work building a contemporary art community in Sousse – Elbirou and UV are truly special. And obviously this wouldn’t have happened without Laura, my partner in everything.

Tomorrow we head South to Toujene and Chenini, but we leave a little piece of ourselves behind in Sousse.

“Coastline of Forever”
Sousse, Tunisia 2022