Over the past 10 years, Tunisia has seen a growing number of art spaces, mostly centered in Tunis and environs. These spaces offer artists a platform to express themselves to the public, where they engage with different audiences and play a part in promoting the arts in Tunisia. After speaking with friends and colleagues related to the arts in Tunisia, I’ve compiled a list of art spaces organized by neighborhood. These are galleries, residencies, and platforms, mostly in and around Tunis. Some have been around for over a decade, while others opened within the last year. If traveling to Tunisia is not in your future right now, I’ve provided their websites and social media pages for you to explore from home.
40 rue Kouttab Louzir, Dar Bach Hamba, Medina of Tunis
L’Art Rue was founded in 2006 by dancer and choreographer duo Selma and Sofiane Ouissi as a center for creation, experimentation and research between practices and cultures. Although its location at the historic building of Dar Bach Hamba is in souk el Blatt (originally the souk for medicinal plants), L’Art Rue’s reach and activities go far beyond the alleys of Tunis’ medina. Its 6 programs are centered on art residencies, art and education, Dream City arts festival, lectures, and scholarships. Each program encourages artists to engage with the city of Tunis, its populations, its public and shared issues, and its democratic challenges.
Festival Dream City is L’Art Rue’s 10-day arts festival and flagship program, activating locations across the city of Tunis with artists’ creations. The 9th edition was September 22-October 8, 2023.
32bis rue Ben Gedhahem, Tunis
Tunis’ new contemporary arts center, 32bis, fosters the exchange of ideas across artists, stewards of the arts, and international and Tunisian researchers. Located in a 1950s building that was formerly Phillips’s headquarters in Tunisia, 32bis is a 43,000 square foot campus that houses artist residencies, a multimedia library specializing in contemporary art, exhibitions, performances, ateliers, and cultural programs.
Its outgoing creative director, Camille Lévy Sarfati, has been the creative director since 2019. She bridges local artists and the international art scene by inviting local, regional and international artists through its doors. She launched their Séances Jeunes Artistes lecture series, which invites Tunisian artists to share their experiences in the art world, helping guide the next generation of Tunisian artists and individuals interested in pursuing a career in the arts. She completed a residency at the Paris location of non-profit contemporary art organization KADIST in April 2023.
Le 15 Website
15 avenue de Carthage, Tunis
42 rue Ben Ghedhahem, Tunis (temporary location)
Central is an interdisciplinary art space in downtown Tunis founded in 2018 by Emna ben Yedder. As stated on its Instagram page, “Central is a dream in which art is fun, open and without boundaries, where the exhibition becomes an artistic experience.” The exhibitions address relevant themes in a serious yet accessible way through playful and interactive experiences, all in order to improve access to the arts to the public.
The gallery is part of a larger entrepreneurial initiative, Le15, named for its location at 15 Avenue de Carthage. The gallery is at street level and anchors an art deco building housing organizations in Tunisia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, such as start-up incubator Flat6Labs, Open Innovation, and Columbia Global Centers. Their proximity allows for the organizations to collaborate with each other. The building is at the heart of downtown Tunis just south of the main thoroughfare Avenue Bourguiba, between the Municipal Theater, the Tunis train station, Central Market, and contemporary art space 32bis.
25 rue 8603, Zone Industrielle
La Charguia 1, Tunis
Monday-Friday, 11am-4pm, or by appointment
Kilani Groupe launched La Boîte in 2007 to bring contemporary arts to a broader audience and support artists in each stage of their artistic process. Located at Kilani Groupe headquarters in the industrial area of La Charguia I near the airport of Tunis is La Boîte’s 270 square foot white cube space that exhibits works by contemporary artists. The force and founder behind La Boîte is Fatma Kilani, a collector and marketing teacher and researcher at IHEC Carthage University. The employees of Kilani Groupe, who may not be familiar with contemporary art, are encouraged to engage with the exhibitions and artists workshops, all sponsored by the company.
La Boîte has three other initiatives to expand contemporary arts’ reach across the country – installations in public spaces in and around Tunis; art programs targeting regions across the country where artistic activities lack; and a corporate artists residency. Since 2018, La Boîte has shown an art video exhibition in the southeastern town of Gabès in conjunction with the Arab cinema festival Gabès Cinema Fen.
Musk & Amber
Angle Rue Ghar el Melh et rue Mälaren, Les Berges du Lac, Tunis
A hybrid design boutique, cultural space, and gallery, Musk & Amber founder Lamia Bousnina Ben Ayed has created a design destination in her loft space in Berges du Lac. You’ll find international design names such as Kartell, Assouline, and Fornasetti, alongside local and regional designers such as Lebanese designers Bokja and Sarah’s Bags. Throughout the year the space hosts art exhibitions, fashion shows and installations.
- NORTHERN SUBURBS
B7L9 Art Station
Rue Jaber Ibn Hayen, Bahr Lazreg
Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm; 9pm-midnight
B7L9 Art Station is an experimental contemporary art space launched in 2019 by the Kamel Lazaar Foundation for Art and Culture. Named after its location in Bahr Lazreg, a working class neighborhood adjacent to the tony residents of La Marsa, B7L9 offers a full annual program of artistic and cultural events free to the public. Its mission is as much about creating a space for artists and the exchange of ideas, as it is about having a positive social and economic impact in the neighborhood through seminars, workshops and outreach in arts and culture. The Kamel Lazaar Foundation is a prominent supporter of the arts in Tunisia. In addition to B7L9, their work includes producing Tunisia’s Venice Biennale project in 2017, running the annual JAOU arts festival, launching a music project in partnership with the Bremen orchestra in Germany, and funding the publication of Artistes de Tunisie, covering the arts in Tunisia from the 19th to 21st centuries, among other initiatives.
First edition: Rue Ibn Rochd, Bhar Lazreg, La Marsa, Tunisia 2046
May 2023, 10am-5pm
A few blocks from B7L9, a new arts initiative TuniSphëre engaged with the community of the Bahr Lazreg neighborhood to create a temporary arts exhibition/festival scattered across 4 sites along Rue Ibn Rochd. Residents were employed to help build installations, while kids and adults were encouraged to join artist workshops and talks. The program also included an outdoor musical performance by Carthage Symphonic Orchestra. The entire neighborhood was activated. We look forward to learning about the next edition.
Yosr ben Ammar
Rue du Phosphate, Bhar Lazreg, La Marsa, Tunisia 2046
Yosr ben Ammar originally opened in 2005 as Kanvas Art Gallery in Gammarth with a concentration on modern and contemporary Tunisian artists. In 2015, they expanded to represent Street Art, maintaining their reputation as an avant-garde gallery engaged in the next wave of artists. With a growing audience, they opened a space in the coastal city of Sousse in 2019 focused entirely on contemporary art. In October 2022, they inaugurated a new space in the Bhar Lazreg neighborhood.
Selma Feriani Gallery
8 Place Sidi Hassine, Sidi Bou Said
Monday-Friday, 10am-1pm; 2-6pm; Saturday 9am-4pm
Established in 2013 in Tunis, Selma Feriani has staged acclaimed public interventions internationally, has participated in the Venice Biennale in 2015 and 2017, and regularly participates in art fairs, such as the Art Basel Hong Kong and Basel, FIAC, Art Dubai and more. With a location in London at Tunis, this gallery is the most widely known Tunisia-based gallery, whose portfolio of artists have works in major private and public collations, including LACMA, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Tate Modern and British Museum, New Museum, Centre Georges Pompidou and more. The gallery represents artist from the MENA region and around the globe with a focus on concept-based works that look at the role art plays in a wider intellectual, cultural, social and political context. Watch a panel discussion at the British Museum with Selma Feriani on, Tunisia: art as a mirror.
A.Gorgi Contemporary Art Gallery
3 rue Sidi El Ghemrinin, Sidi Bou Said
Monday-Friday, 2-7pm, or by appointment
When Aicha Gorgi, the daughter of renowned modern artist and member of the École de Tunis group Abdelaziz Gorgi, took over her father’s gallery Ammar Farhat in 2010, she renamed it and shifted the gallery’s focus from featuring modern to contemporary art. She draws on the gallery’s extensive network of local and international artists, collectors, and institutions cultivated over decades to put on a program that features both solo and thematic exhibitions throughout the year. The gallery is a leader in identifying and nurturing emerging Tunisian artists and look at cross-cultural themes of local concern.
Galerie El Marsa
2 Place du Safsaf, 2070 La Marsa
Established in 1994, Elmarsa Gallery plays an important role in the Arab art community by representing modern and contemporary artists from the Arab world. Exhibitions regularly feature the historical and cultural diversity of the region and its intersection with cotemporary global issues. The gallery participates in prestigious international art fairs and opened its second location in Dubai in 2015. The gallery is located in the historic palace El Abdalliya Essoughra, adjacent to one of the oldest cafés in the city, and has become an informal meeting place for local and international intellectuals.
Rue Omar Ibn Abi Rabiaa, La Marsa
Tuesday-Thursday, 11am-7pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-8pm; Sunday, 10am-3pm
The newest addition to La Marsa’s gallery scene is TGM Gallery, led by cultural journalist and writer, Alya Hamza. In addition to exhibiting works from the main movements of Tunisian painting, TGM Gallery also features works by Tunisian artisans and emerging artists. Its inaugural exhibition in 2021 paid homage to the École de Tunis, the celebrated group of modern painters from France and Tunisia that formed around WWII. The gallery opened its doors just steps from the terminus of the iconic TGM commuter train, which is part of the city’s heritage and inspiration for the name of the gallery. TGM stands for the train’s route, from Tunis, via la Goulette, to its terminus, la Marsa.
- INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS IN TUNIS
Many international institutions have offices and venues in Tunis that host cross-cultural programs, partner with local arts institutions, and engage with the city’s communities. Here are a few I’m following:
Goethe Institut Tunis
Institut Français de Tunis
- ONLINE/VARIOUS LOCATIONS
Mouhit Art Residency
Various locations in and around Tunis
This artist residency based in Tunis defines itself as an “unconventional playground” for artists. From what I can tell through its Instagram, the focus is on graphic, urban arts, and I’m excited to follow the artists in residence.
Archivart is an online platform for discovering contemporary Tunisian artist. Tunisian founders Wafa Gabsi Takali and Khalil Liouane launched Archivart with the mission to record (archive) artists’ works as historical data over time, help a larger audience discover and acquire contemporary works of art, and support young artists in their journey through an incubator program.