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Blog: Street Art in Egypt After the Revolution

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I started my week with the news that the blogger Asmaa Mahfouz was taken into custody by the military government in Egypt last Sunday (August 14th, 2011) for being too critical. One of the voices of the revolution is now being perceived as a subversive element, as critical notions are being shushed out. The turn after the jubilee of the revolution is now back at start, by imprisoning the people who stood at the front lines of Egyptian freedom.

Although there is hope as Cairo now possesses a lively street art community. The guerrilla artists produce their work under the gaze of anonymity, which can safeguard them from prosecution. Although some works are explicitly critical, others are merely decorative. However even these decorative pieces perform a vital critical presence by their very existence. As in the pre-revolutionary instance it was unthinkable of someone going out and defacing a public building of some kind. It is in the realization of freedom that the artist goes out to make his pieces. The ‘I was here’ instinct of human beings becomes a revolutionary act. Performing a message that speaks directly to the public and is publicly accessible. The only critics are public cleaners and/or the dust coming in from the desert. The speaker is completely free to make any statement he or she wishes without the infringement of others. Moreover, the pieces receive maximum exposure to any passerby. And as the public voices of the revolution are silenced it’s these practices that still perform the critical duties of an open society.