I try to think of things to say but nothing comes, and if something did come I probably couldn’t say it. This is my great obstacle, the biggest of all the boulders littering my path. In my mind I am eloquent; I can climb intricate scaffolds of words to reach the highest cathedral ceilings and paint my thoughts. But when I open my mouth, it all collapses.
―Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies
Art starts conversations and inspires thought that frightens tyrants. What is the future of art in a society in transition?
Synkroniciti is excited to share three jaw-dropping short films produced by the Art in the Streets series from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. They feature street artists in the capital cities of Libya, Lebanon and Egypt, where the medium known as graffiti is gaining some acceptance even as it creates conflict. Beirut, which knew revolution before the so called Arab Spring, is a city where graffiti is legal, causing street artists to flock there from all over the world. Artists in Cairo and Tripoli are finding their voices in a culture that is divided. Some cheer their efforts and praise their abilities. Others react in fear and find their art an affront to God. Women painting on the streets and artists representing faces and words are considered by many to be offenses punishable by violence.
The Arab Spring is not a short term project, nor did it begin with the wave of protests and demonstrations of 2010, no matter how convenient that may be for outsiders and history books. This revival and renewal has been brewing for many moons and will continue. It has many facets and motivations, and like any revolution, those who participate have their own prejudices and failures. These artists are perhaps the most inspiring spokesmen and women for the changes occurring across the Middle East and North Africa. They do more to construct a new society than all the armies of the world.
Videos via MOCAtv on YouTube.
Want to delve into this subject with us? Read Synkroniciti’s article on Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red or our article on the currents behind Frank Herbert’s Dune.