THE ARAB SPRING: A REVOLUTION IN ART
By Sarah Spickernell
With political liberation comes cultural liberation, and the Arab spring has set free a multitude of creative minds and ideas which were previously repressed under dictatorship. A new world of North African and Middle-Eastern artists is beginning to take shape, with much of their work impassioned with politics, suffering and desire for change.
Events such as the Doha Tribeca film festival allow aspiring Arab artists to have their work viewed by important figures from Eastern and Western society alike, and it’s these events which could provide a source of great revolutionary art. Internationally recognised Emirati film-maker Ali F Mostafa, who has showcased work at the festival a number of times, has voiced a strong interest in using the Arab spring as a subject for his work. Similarly, at last month’s Bamako Encounters festival in Mali, photographer Nermine Hammam revealed a series of emotive images depicting a positive slant on the life and emotions of the soldiers involved in the Egyptian revolution.
It is not just the visual arts that are being touched by the revolution. Across Syria, poems and songs inspired by the Arab spring are being written and shared. According to Syrian poet Diab, “sit-ins” are becoming increasingly popular: events where individuals read aloud their revolutionary songs, chants and poems to fellow Syrians. He says “It’s public poetry. People take proverbs from ancient Arab literature and make them anti-Assad. They change well-known stadium chants into anti-regime slogans…” This literary trend is not confined to Syria either, in fact many writers take such pride in their work that it has practically become a competition between countries to produce the most artistic chants.
If we take an optimistic view, the arts will now be able to develop unhindered in Arab world. Once the revolution has subsided and a more stable political governance takes shape, it’s likely that the passionate political-infused art will evolve into something else. The future is exciting and open to change.