Graffiti, as protest and as celebration

Photo credit: Georgia Wells, The Atlantic

Photo credit: Georgia Wells, The Atlantic

Street Art and the Revolution is an Atlantic profile of students at Cairo’s Faculty of Fine Arts college who have transformed the wall outside their Zamalek school into a mural honoring the revolution.

“The school’s walls on the street were covered with graffiti, only it was not” Professor Mansour hesitates politely, “very good graffiti.” He realized then, of course, the revolution would make better street art.

Students at the century-old school responded well. After losing one of their peers to the violence — a well-loved young man majoring in Interior Design and Decor –the students found great meaning in the assignment, Professor Mansour says. All 60 students in the course made a mural design to present. The class held a “democratic vote” to select the seven best.

For a closer examination of some of this graffiti art, visit Paul Beran’s video blog of the Egypt Forum 2011, a CMES Outreach Center program that takes U.S. teachers to Egypt. Scrolling to the bottom of the blog, you will find four videos, with Paul’s narration, of the art done by the students.

One interesting note — the word “الحرية” could have been written in Arabic or in English (translation: “freedom”), but the artists chose instead to write it “7orya”. This is the word in Arabic chat-speak, the transliteration of Arabic into Latin script for those who use social networking services where Arabic script integration is poor. By writing the word as “7orya” the artists are not only paying homage to the revolution itself, but to the role of social media in bringing it about.

See also:
Murals in Alexandria
Blog Ganzeer, an Egyptian graffiti artist

In sadder news, the Libyan street artist Kais al-Hilali was killed in March. An April issue of The New Yorker contains a tribute to him from political cartoonists in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East.

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