Monday, May 30, 2011

Art in Egypt

Interesting article by Philip Kennicott in the Post about the arts scene in Egypt. Having spent the past thirty years trying to criticize the regime in ways that would slip past the censors, or at least not get them arrested, Egyptian artists are now unsure what they want to do or how to go about it.

Artists here are particularly engaged with influencing the future of the freedom of expression. The revolution is still up for grabs, they say, with powerful, entrenched interests dragging Egypt in different directions. They are grappling with huge historical uncertainties: What happened? Has anything changed? And they are turning to the literature of South America, films made in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism, even French comic books from the 1960s, for answers.
This is just one version of the problem faced by most modern artists: once they have disconnected themselves from the traditional interests of the aristocratic class, what should they say and do? Some become cynical and spend their time mocking the middle class, some struggle to hold onto a sense of opposition and revolution, while others focus on cashing in.

In the aftermath of Egypt's revolution, some artists will try to hold onto that miraculous moment. One of the artist's features in this peace, Lara Baladi,

speaks in almost mystical terms about the days she spent in Tahrir Square and what it all meant. . . . Beyond political revolution, she argues, Tahrir gave Egyptians a vision of religious and social unity that could refashion the nation’s most fundamental values. Baladi, a Christian with roots in Egypt and Lebanon, imagines the revolution transforming not just Egypt but the world.

But how to make art that will express such hopes without becoming mawkish?

At least, though, the artists have a sense of new possibilities, and a new vision of their country and themselves.

No comments: