Monday, 16 December 2013

"Speak yourself"


Is this the quintessence of what art is all about? 


Zwewla, November 28, 2013, in Siliana.
"Speak yourself"


Except, it could not be any farther from what art is supposed to be - in theory.

The painting consists of two layers. A background of random color bombing onto the wall to symbolize the authorities' need to give up their control. On top of that the precision of the stencil with the representation of the vocal cords at the center. Almost violent in their black and white shadowing with paint running from them. A painting on what a painting cannot do. Movement and sound.

And yet the vocal cords are portrayed with such violence that we feel the strain in our own vocal cords when confronted with it. It is a head calling, screaming, singing out. Botho Strauss has a wonderful scene in his "Wohnen Dämmern Lügen" in which a singer performs Das Lied von der Erde with all movement, all power concentrated around her mouth, her vocal cords tense all the way down to the collarbones. Her mouth is framing that unbelievable gift of music, she becomes the singer in our place, the concentration of human sound on a grander scale.

In our place so much so that we partake in the sounding of the artist. Which make artists so dangerous to have around for controlling authorities, and the vocal cords an ultimate symbol of what must be silenced. The poor Willis' predicament is all about the solid black cutting through the drawing:


Nadia Khiari, WillisfromTunis, November 29, 2013, at yakayaka.org:
"AMMAR 404 is watching you!"
A decree gives (the newly established Technical Agency of Telecommunication) ATT
 the possibility to monitor the internet.
- This is to protect you from wicked terrorists

But the vocal cords are but the final canalization of what lies underneath. Sound is created with the whole body, given force by in this instance: Anger. 

The mural was made for Siliana on its situation of poverty a little over a fortnight ago. In the video below the members of Zwewla underlines their aim to show the indignity of poverty, and to this end the importance of not using the language of politicians and intellectuals. The language of murals is a way of expressing oneself in a simple language, inviting everybody to do the same. A visually direct proof that opinions are for everyone, not just for an official voice. Speak yourself says the tag immediately over the head crying out above, with the text on the mural in its entirety:

"Speak yourself, speak about your problem, you don't need an intermediate"




So in theory the call for action is as far from traditional aesthetics as can be, and yet this is art at its most vibrant. Today Oussama cut through when I tried to pinpoint his possible theoretical inspirations:

Change happens from reality, not from books.

Tomorrow we see the third anniversary of the act that ignited the Arab spring, when Mohamed Bouazizi set light to himself in Sidi Bouazid. Which is also the hometown of one of the two opposition leaders murdered this year, Mohamed Brahmi. It has been speculated if it may prove an angry day.


Zwewla, November 28. 2013, for Siliana.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

"Everything can be excused apart from the drawing!"


It was so sad not hearing his voice, because you rarely got in many words when he was around. Yesterday my brother and I paid our last respects to our one-of-a-kind uncle who passed away last Sunday. We had a quiet time with him at the chapel reading him poems by Nizar Qabbani and Aboul-Qacem Echebbi and all the while he looked as if he fought to sit up to have his say because a new idea had just popped up.

All children should have such an uncle. He was an incorrigibly curious intellectual, always asking, always playing with possible explanations. He would pose at least two hypotheses to you on the phone. When it was possible to reach him by phone, that is. He was a specialist on the Middle East and when he gave sound, it was usually from some new place between the Mediterranean and Afghanistan from where he would refer to a handful of languages, noting the development of certain words from one language to another, which might indicate…(insert next hypothesis here)...

- and so it was a shock to him when fundamentalists were gaining ground by the end of the 1980s. But true to form he insisted on meeting each fundamentalist on his way in an open discussion, carrying various editions of the Quran with him to point out discrepancies and at least try to shatter the one-eyed certainty of the one he was talking to - it was never an opponent or adversary, because he included you in the unfolding of his thoughts, he never accused the one before him. The very essence of the difference between the thinking being and this specimen:


Yahia Boulahia: La Fatwa du jour, December 11, 2013.
Moncef Marzouki gives presidential amnesty to 79 prisoners.
- Everything can be excused apart from the drawing!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A Strange Kind of Love


ENGLISH TRANSLATION IN ITALICS BELOW


Doaa Eladl: Art Dictator Industry, October 27, 2013.
- to be read from the right, do we want to worship the gods we created ourselves?
- but if read from the left, perhaps a fitting morale...



Af PER ARNOLDI


Kære Ven,
Du spørger, efter vores TV udsendelse igår aftes,  hvad jeg har imod Richard Winthers hus, nu åbnet som museum i Vindeby på Lolland???

"To the Warmongers"


"I am back again from hell
With loathsome thoughts to sell;
Secrets of death to tell;
And horrors from the abyss (…)

Mohammed Khaled. Photo: Kalb Balady, November 17, 2013.

"(…) Young faces bleared with blood,
Sucked down into the mud,
You shall hear things like this,
Till the tormented slain
Crawl round and once again,
Moan out their brutish pain (…)"

Mohammed Khaled. Photo: Kalb Balady, November 17, 2013.

The quoted lines above open the poem To the Warmongers by Siegfried Sassoon were written when he was wounded in hospital in 1917. A poem of a young man having seen too much to an extent that it becomes an existential question whether this is life? Is this what lies at the core of human life which we usually do our best to hide, or is this what should never be? Are these the eyes of someone who has seen the truth?

Mohammed Khaled, detail. Photo: Kalb Balady, November 17, 2013.

To which there are no answers and yet the first answer lies right in front of us: The atrocities of World War I were manmade. Someone was culpable just as they are responsible in Egypt today, a new set of warmongers in military uniform, this time when meeting the protesters on the street with force.

The existential exclamation points a direct political finger on the responsibility. Above his eyes are staring and yet they are empty, and the emptiness is underlined by the rings of ink onto which a softer brush has posited a shadowy layer so that we are affronted by a shadow even before we seek his gaze. It is not healthy to look at him.

Mohammed Khaled has taken up the glove thrown by the poets and artists who knew the horrors of the First World War: How to get as close to the fact as possible.


Otto Dix, Verwundeter (Herbst 1916, Bapaume) / Wounded Soldier (Autumn 1916, Bapaume), 1924. Photo at www.wikipaintings.org.

Mohammed Khaled as Otto Dix before him is laying out the story with the brush, the bodies are disintegrating, making them call out all the more forcefully:


Mohammed Khaled, detail. Photo: Kalb Balady, November 17, 2013.

The line itself has sound, it is a roar. When I see the work of Mohammed Khaled, I cannot help thinking of the German voice coach, Alfred Wolfsohn. His techniques are still in use today and I for one was taught a couple of them when I voice-trained. Wolfsohn too worked on his experiences from the trenches of First World War, when he had heard human sounds beyond all boundaries. The young wounded screaming from No Man's Land, from where no one could get to them to save them. Noises that were violent in character, human voices that had lost all limitations.

Mohammed Khaled. Photo: Kalb Balady, November 22, 2013.

The canvases by Mohammed Khaled are all the more impressive by taking the graphic medium that we are confident with in the tiny format, meeting us in 1:1 on paper, onto the large scale. Mohammed says he would have used larger canvases, could they be had. But there is inspiration to be had in art history, where canvases have been sewn or glued together for many centuries. The massive work is then taken off its frame and rolled together when it is to be moved, such as Picasso's Guernica was when it was traveling in Scandinavia in 1938. Is it sadly time for the Guernica of this century?


Mohammed Khaled. Photo: Kalb Balady, November 22, 2013.

Of course nothing compares in the size to architectonic walls. Such as the presently dazzle painted wall of Mohamed Mahmoud Street, where the military insistence for the past 150 years on invisibility and colorlessness has been affronted. The first to initiate the dazzled surface was Mohammed Khaled. He chose to portrait two specific personalities who are one-eyed since the violence of January 25, 2011. Underneath we see the outline of one, who lost his life, whereas the blinded eye has turned into an exposing light more powerful than ever. It is a challenge: Look at the anger you have created:


Mohammed Khaled, "Eyes of Freedom"Photo: Kalb Balady, November 19, 2013.

 "(…) And the wounds in my heart are red,
For I have watched them die."

- the concluding lines of To the Warmongers by Siegfried Sassoon. All photos are courtesy of the artists and their photographers and must not be reproduced without their permission.


Sunday, 1 December 2013

On the Importance of Not Obeying


Lately I have been involved in at once very difficult and very positive dialogues with ALS-patients, who feels the time is creeping closer when they have to make the decision whether to choose a ventilator. It is a choice between life and death, and there is no simple answer to the question.

However, as many doctors are against ventilators, they are very persuasive in talking their patients out of it. Consequently the said doctors are at worst putting themselves into the position of Higher Beings with the word to decide for or against:


Doaa Eladl, December 14, 2012.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The non-consensual witness


"Oh, but you can be sure that the Norwegian political prisoners are not treated as well as this".

Norwegian political prisoners

In Scandinavia we have had no such thing as political prisoners since the time of my great-great-great-great-grandparents. The fact that the remark was in the tone from one who has seen too much, was an all too telling glimpse of the reality the young in this case Northern Africa is facing. Today Zwewla made a one-eyed happening to mark the brutal repression of last year's demonstration in Siliana against poverty and for the release of prisoners withheld since April 2011. 300 were injured, many of whom with serious eye-injuries. The strategy is the same every time, the protesters can easily be detected afterwards. Unless everyone wears an eye patch:

Photo: Zwewla, November 24, 2013.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Of Necessity and Destruction


Photo: Abdelrhman Zin Eldin, November 18, 2013.

While protesters were busy destroying a new memorial at the Tahrir Square, the artists were no less occupied in the Mohamed Mahmoud Street demolishing their own works and those of their colleagues.

Demolishing is perhaps not the right word here. Camouflaging they call it in the vein of what the military does. Dazzle paint in pink, hiding the artworks just as the truth is hidden in Egypt by its men in power. Add to that that the artists have taken on the very action of their adversaries, a demonstration of who is has the upper hand.

Photo: Abdelrhman Zin Eldin, November 19, 2013.
- the day after, job done.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

"Cheap metal in the limbs"


Back in Ancient Rome when the Christians had to communicate in secret across the city they drew a fish as their symbol. "Fish", ichtus in Greek, is in sound fairly close to the name of Christ, while not easily figured out by the Romans since the fish and Christians are not a direct match.

The example above is but one of how to communicate within a group safe from the world outside. But in Syria the opposite situation is at hand.


Syrian Ironman
- cheap metal in the limbs, precious metals in his heart
Peace for the wounded

Aleppo, October 5, 2012.

Friday, 8 November 2013

A little outcry on a Friday

Et lille torsdags-skrig på en fredag

ENGLISH TRANSLATION IN ITALICS



Nadia Khiari, WillisfromTunis, September 20, 2011:
 "- Well, Willis? How are you holding up against the pressure, the uncertainty,
the Bearded (the Salafists), the threats and political instability?
- I drug myself"
Willis in good company with Manet's Absinthe Drinker



AF PER ARNOLDI


I mange år har man, fejlagtigt ganske vist, ment og påstået og doceret at sport var sundt.
Eliteidræt ovenikøbet det allersundeste, både for udøvernes kroppe og folkets sjælelige sundhed.
Aldrig har jeg hørt mage til sludder.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

"my revolt, my freedom, and my passion"


"Thus I draw from the absurd three consequences, which are my revolt, my freedom, and my passion"

In Tunisia Willis has already tested the shock opening of Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus, whether life is worth living as the fundamental question. If the answer is no, then there after all is no reason for any further step in life or philosophy. Nadia Khiari qua Willis deliberately gave an ambiguous answer, but that had direct links to the socio-political circumstances she is addressing. Camus on the other hand found a rather happy conclusion in the pause given to Sisyphus each time his stone is rolling back down where it came from:

"That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock"

Per Marquard Otzen marks the centenary of the birth of Albert Camus with a drawing of three authors/philosophers at work. Drawing Camus, Sartre and Kierkegaard together is a troublesome task in that the two younger ones each defined himself as the antinomy of the other, but Per Marquard Otzen assigns the movement of the composition to the Camus and Kierkegaard busily working in opposite directions, while Sartre is left with the role of caddie:

Per Marquard Otzen: Sisyfos - en lykkelig mand:
Hvordan kan man undgå i Kierkegaards værker at finde tegn på en næsten frivillig lemlæstelse af sjælen?"
skriver Albert Camus i "Sisyfos-myten". Camus ville være fyldt hundrede år i dag" /
Sisyphus - a Happy Man: How can one fail to read in his works
 the signs of an almost intentional mutilation of the soul?
Albert Camus writes in The Myth of Sisyohus. Camus would have been 100 years old today. 

Politiken, November 7, 2013.


And yet Camus is looking back with understanding on his colleague in that The Myth of Sisyphus makes Kierkegaard come alive before us, with all his discrepancies, pseudonyms, opposed writings, trying to come to terms with life, refusing consolation, heading directly towards "his beloved scandals". Words to prove what a great author Camus was. Kierkegaard comes alive as that "Don Juan of the understanding" creating his very own myth of Sisyphus, "an almost intentional mutilation" - almost intentional! - "of the soul for a part of his existence at least". In short "(…) he does more than discover the absurd, he lives it":

"As for that thorn he feels in his heart, he is careful not to quiet its pain. On the contrary, he awakens it and, in the desperate joy of a man crucified and happy to be so, he builds up piece by piece—lucidity, refusal, make-believe—a category of the man possessed." 

And so "Kierkegaard likewise takes the leap". If Sisyphus is the absurd hero to Camus, Kierkegaard is a close second, facing his fears to a degree that Camus can even speak of truth and clarity to life. As he concludes "One must imagine Sisyphus happy".


Oh, and the only detail of the drawing left in white are the flips worn by Kierkegaard. In Danish they were called "Patricides" since they very nearly strangled their wearer.


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Actors on the historical stage


"Images are not just a particular kind of sign, but something like an actor on the historical stage"

Oh yes.

Doaa Eladl, Eyes Wide Shut; Egypt in the Eyes of the International Press!! 
16. august 2013.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Bluebeard would be jealous


When a measly passageway downstairs turns out to be a sumptuous foliage in glowing orange as painted by Valdemar Andersen there is every reason to gorge on the rest of the villa.




In fact you are welcomed at very the entrance by the Olympian gods enjoying the good life on land and sea alike. Mermen are stealing young women, while the sea horses of Poseidon are leaping out of the water.

Valdemar Andersen created a string of meetings melting into a frieze encircling not just the hallway, but the staircase and the first floor landing. In the busy environment of entrance and staircase that is all about movement, the role of the gods is to create a room within the room of contented well-being.



The sea-creatures are active along the stairs, but even they have a certain Northern serenity to them as the colouring is airy and on a background of white today.

On land the gods' interactions are of a more indirect nature. His reds as seen above are reflected in the draping of her blue garments, while her cooler blues are to be found in the shadows of his otherwise warm skin tones.

But this is a villa with heaven and a room of sin under the same roof. Like Bluebeard's castle this one has a secret room. Maybe not so much locked as it is placed at the furthest end below the house where you have to descend three different staircases, each of them removed from the others by the turn of a corner and not till you get to yet another corner, the fourth, the orange foliage is suddenly before you leading you the rest of the way. This is a room you will never find unless you are very much into mischief or directly invited. 





The house was built in 1921 on Solsortvej 68, Frederiksberg, in the aftermath of World War I. Denmark had been neutral in the war, but a number of businessmen had made huge fortunes selling canned food of an appallingly poor quality to the German troops. They all lost what they had gained within a few years after the war, spending freely and seldom wisely. 

I for one went to school in a brothel built for these "baronets" as they were condescendingly named. I am not defending how they made their fortunes, but they did make a positive difference for the arts, the large scale decorations not least. At my school we had a fountain of stone that had once sprung wine and the floor of the library was a mosaic with the jester or the knave of a playing card. There were certain rooms here too we were not supposed to enter given the nature of the decorations, which of course we... but what I mean to say: When artists of the monumental scale, Charles Rennie Mackintosh to name one, was out of work all over Europe from 1914, their Danish colleagues were busier than ever doing commissioned work not just for state and royalty, but for private citizens daring to be different. 

Private citizens.




The commissioner in this instance was Swedish of origin, Anders Ludvig Andersson (1876-1955) and his Danish wife, Ingeborg (1877-?). Anders Ludvig Andersson was a shoe manufacturer with very little money prior to the Great War when his business suddenly boomed, probably selling poorly made shoes to the German troops.




This must have been the room of his dreams. A Men Only. A pool room complete with seatings constructed as part of the walls as were the cupboards of which one was hiding a sink to secure one's hands were on top of the game at all times and another for the cues.

Everything comes together and comes to life through the decorations of Valdemar. He painted the walls, the floor, the ceiling, the seatings, the cupboards - even the curtain surrounding the light in the center of the room.

This is a room to dissolve any thought of time and place outside of it. The rest of the world has no longer existed once the door was closed behind them. 




Smoking cigars painted at the front of one of the seatings


As with the brothel they must have been rather sociable, those baronets, showing off their riches, but having a great time doing so. To underline the abundance, it is personified in Abundantia with the cornucopia as the centre piece of the room. She is all in gold, of course.
























The decorated ceiling centers at the place where the table once stood. But the main attraction of the room and unique of its kind are the sectioned walls. The walls themselves are orangey-red while the sections are orangey-yellow with decorations of birds and flowers surrounded by swirling foliage of a kind only to be seen in fairy tale gardens.

Or rather the Vatican. The direct inspiration came from the Loggia by Raphael, which Valdemar never saw in person. Most likely he had seen the grand books on the subject from the 18th century at the library of Designmuseum Denmark. Since the drawings were not shown in colours, he created is own vision of that side of the matter.

But where Rafael at the Vatican would paint nymphs, Valdemar placed a player with his cue at the center of each section. Each and everyone is busy chalking the cue or making a bold move like this one and they are all are so obviously portraits of the players.

The blue player is a portrait of Harald Moltke, a close neighbour of the Anderssons and our link between artist and commissioner. Harald Moltke was a friend of Valdemar's, painter and renowned for his works from Greenland of eagles, glaciers and Northern Lights.




The home of Harald Moltke was once decorated too by Valdemar Andersen. Dragons were flying or clawing their way along his staircase while golden foliage encircled the living rooms. It is now all gone, leaving his house to be just another mass produced villa of that time. Redecorated with unfashionable-before-long wall papers as opposed to the daring walls of the individual. 

Let us take leave with the player that might be a portrait of Andersson himself. He is the one you see first upon entering, inviting us to join in:




Photos of the pool room are courtesy of Paola Grippo Laustsen, those from the entrance and staircase were taken by me.


ETA: On May 1, 2014 the decorations seen above where destroyed, when a new owner took possession of the house.



Monday, 21 October 2013

Only for the chosen few




Imagine to have one's own castle with an intimate passageway downstairs of swirling brocade leading to a den of sin.

The passageway and the den very much exist, albeit the castle is of the size of a villa. Built in 1921 on Solsortvej 68 at Frederiksberg in Copenhagen, it takes a strong individual to dare live in it, which is the very best thing about this: The villa has so obviously been enjoyed as it was intended.

The acanthus leaves on the walls were painted by Valdemar Andersen as a means to disguise the doors along the passageway. They are after all leading to the utility rooms, all too practical for the handful of gentlemen back then, who probably did not even know where to find the kitchen in their own homes (as the story goes - "somewhere in that direction is it?") and in the mood for playing a game of pool -  snooker or pool, I have no idea, let's just call it pool - while smoking cigars. 

We will get to the gentlemen and their cigars in the next blogpost, right now let's take a closer look at a rather monumental decoration and yet made to be seen by just the chosen few:




A flash of bright orange and on a large scale, laid out in wide open swirls much more so than their renaissance archetypes. Which was fully intended just like Valdemar's modern takes on imitated marble on doors and staircases, never meant to be imitations. They are an artist's interpretation of a motif that have been translated into art for thousands of years before him and yet this one has never been seen before. It was not intended to look original in any historic sense, but original in its own time and at this very place.




Valdemar has painted directly on the walls. There are traces of a pencil laying out the general pattern, but from there he painted freely, letting the extra paint on the brush create an emphasis here or he has hesitated for an instant there creating a splotch in the middle of a thin line. Some places he has added another flower or a flourish to keep the rhythm of the overall playfulness as if the walls are sprouting new buds before us.

Drawing is where we meet the artist in his housecoat as Hans Bendix declared. This is as close as we can get to the working process of this particular artist.




It is a curious fact that the artists who work in the smallest scale, the cartoonists, seamlessly switch to the monumental format. Hence also the direct link to the street artists of today, both are able to convert an idea to the plane in an instance, sensing the graphic totalities whether it is the page of the news paper or an entire room - in this case a room not even a room in itself, but a grasp to disguise, to lead the way and set the mood all in one. 




These decorations alone create a story that takes the villa from being any other villa to a very literal personal castle. Few can boast of having one. 

Our parting photo is overexposed, but is here to show the scale of the swirls:




All photos were taken by me.



ETA: On May 1, 2014 the decoration was destroyed, when a new owner took possession of the house.



Wednesday, 16 October 2013

"Poverty is the worst form of violence"


- as Mahatma Gandhi made clear and so he became a stencil by the mural protesters in a new century.


Zwewla: March 25, 2013
Left and above: Kélibia, Nabul.





Zwewla addresses poverty in their very name. Poverty is a violence exercised by those (few?) in power, but as soon as poverty is named, it is a warning too against those (still few?) in power. A warning in three stages as painted on the walls in Sidi Bouzid, a significant city in this respect, in the beginning of October 2013:


1. Apathy

Zwewla: "And Unemployment continues!"
Sidi Bouzid, October 2013.
Valdemar Andersen: Fight the Unemployment!
Buy Danish Goods
, 1927
Designmuseum Denmark,.
The photo was taken by me, hence its poor quality.
They are almost 90 years apart the Danish poster by Valdemar Andersen from 1927 and the Tunisian mural by Zwewla of this year. 

Yet they are remarkably alike in their black rendering of the body locked in the apathy of unemployment. In the poster the child is trying to reach his father, whereas in the mural it is the child itself that is outside the reach of the outside world in the apathy that characterizes the whole family when unemployment strikes. 


Poverty has its iconography in art like any other. Or maybe we should say we have two sides of this type of iconography. There is the one intended for the salons and galleries in which the bourgeoisie has seen destitute children in the snow, calling on the pity and sense of doing good of their beholders. It is now a controversial approach since it calls for philanthropist to take action and that is the type of action that tends to shape the lives of the poor unto their own image. 

It is still the one used for campaigns, though, in that none of us can bear the direct gaze of a child.



Zwewla, july 17, 2012.
In Sayada.

And then there is the other one, the activist one.

Zwewla, November 9, 2012
- at the time when Zwewla was facing trial for
"publishing false news that will disturb the public order"
This too is calling to action, but in direct opposition to the one in the galleries, this one is intended for the the actual afflicted, and usually comes in the form of posters, leaflets and murals. It is art to be met with in public space for everyone to see - the afflicted as well as those who would rather not see them mobilized.


2. Mobilization

Zwewla has added a new motif to the iconography on desperation. A high-octane image that implies no movement, not even of a demonstration, but a three-fold bomb about to go off. It is a confrontation. And yet is imagery without violence.


Zwewla, "The Needle points to MAX", from the left:
Unemployment (بطالة), Poverty (فقر) and Marginalization (التهميش).
Sidi Bouzid, October 10, 2013.

I come from a country that should know. From the happy point of view. The poster above was made right before an important change took place in Denmark. In 1933 our social laws were streamlined and help was no longer something you had to beg for. From then on you would keep your rights as a citizen, such as the right to vote, as citizenry was a basic right even when unemployed, ill or too old to work. The economic assistance was at this time still very basic, but it was a fact and health care for one was free.

1933 was also the year that Hitler came to power right south of the border, but the Fascist ideas gained no ground here. There was no desperation to build on. 


3. History

And then we come to the city of Sidi Bouzid: 

Right - i.e. a prerogative, the truth (حق), Martyr (شهيد )


Zwewla: "Sidi Bouzid: Long live Tunisia Down with imperialism!"
- "imperialism" is painted in red.

Antonio Gramsci, who was a political prisoner 1926-34 for being a Communist in Mussolini's Fascist Italy, wrote from prison on the importance of achieving a critical outlook. The critical stance was what separated one from the masses, from being a mass man, I think Gramsci called it. To this end was needed a beneficium inventarii to make oneself clear of the how and why of what went before. 

Sidi Bouzid is the place to write newest history as this is where Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself from which he eventually died on January 4, 2011 as a protest against the harassment he experienced from the authorities. He is said to have exclaimed "How do you expect me to make a living?" before he ignited himself. His death would in turn ignite the protests that eventually turned into the Arab Spring. His portrait is the embodiment of action taken:

Right - i.e. a prerogative, the truth (حق), Martyr (شهيد )



The wall with Mohamed Bouazizi in its entirety. The clenched fist is a left hand, copied from a woodcut first seen about 1968/69. The woodcut was originally made to be easily reproduced, immediately recognized, and has been used as a call for change in many respects, such as equality for women, jumping continents in the process and now taking part in this context.

A 100 years ago the Mexican artists filled the walls of the official buildings to underline the history of their people, making sure that the struggle for independence and freedom was present before the future generations. Marx was included as was industrial workers and those newly executed in the freedom struggle along with the Aztecs. Murals at governmental level, that would be the natural next goal in Tunisia?

Diego Rivera, a section of the murals enclosing the staircase of
Palacio Nacional, Mexico - image from the Wikipedia page. No conflict with the rights
of the artist intended.

In a way they are already there. It is just the question of the permanence of the walls that is still missing.




All photos courtesy of Zwewla unless otherwise stated.


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