The Mohammed Mahmud wall remains alive and kicking through its graffiti, which is getting altered by the hour. The walls continue to be whitened thanks to the efforts of Egyptian authorities. Yet drawings keep on appearing layers after layers to cover the older ones and the white paint. Not only have the walls of Mohammed Mahmud Street become “a memorial space,” as I have noted in a previous contribution, but also a barometer of the Egyptian revolution. The murals seem to be vividly narrating the most recent political turmoil, portraying the state of the arts of the revolution. Sardonic graffiti and abundant insults against counter-revolutionary forces are re-emerging by the hour. Three recent drawings are worthy of attention.
[Half-Mubarak/Half-Tantawi mural before it was erased. Photo by Mona Abaza.]
[Half-Mubarak/Half-Tantawi mural repainted with Amr Mousa and Ahmed Shafiq appearing
in the background. Photo by Mona Abaza]
When professional whiteners erased the portrait of half-Tantawi half- Mubrak (referenced in my previous piece) a group of revolutionary artists immediately replaced it with a new one featuring a triple-portrait of half-Mubarak half-Tantawi, but this time with half-Amr Mousa half-Ahmed Shafiq appearing in the background. These were supplemented by phrases like “I will never give you the trust and you will never rule me one more day”.
[Uniformed joker holding Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq, along with four skeletons with threads.
Morsi’s face appears as a black head. Photo by Mona Abaza]
Also erased last week was the painting of the uniformed joker holding marionettes with threads. Artists repainted the same image, yet this time the marionettes are the two presidential candidates who advanced to the second round of the vote, namely the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi (painted as a black head) and Ahmed Shafiq, along with a few skeletons.
[Mural showing the mothers of the martyrs with the phrase: “forget what passed and stay behind the elections.” Photos by Mona Abaza]
The Mohammed Mahmud wall was painted over by Ammar Abu-Bakr with yet again mothers of the martyrs dressed in black garment and lifting up the pictures of their deceased sons. Ammar Abu-Bakr painted the following phrase over Alaa Awad’s mural that shows the revolution’s martyrs: “Forget what passed and stay behind the elections.” While some may interpret these words as a show of support for the elections, they were meant sarcastically, as if anyone would choose to dismiss the sacrifices of the revolution’s martyrs.
Alaa Awad’s mural was the first to be wiped out by the professional whiteners a few weeks ago, ironically after he had requested from the American University in Cairo (AUC) to fixate the walls. Ammar Abu-Bakr adopted a different stance, stating at an AUC talk that the graffiti has to remain ephemeral and to constantly change and develop. It seems that Abu-Bakr’s wish has been granted: Mohammed Mahmud Street walls are now the site of a lively conversation that informs passers-by about the most recent moods of the street.
The Art of Narrating the Egyptian Revolution: An Interview with Alaa Awad
The paintings on the walls of Mohamed Mahmud Street have generated a great deal of attention in the past months. In an interview with Mona Abaza, artist Alaa Awad takes us through the journey of creating the impressive murals he painted on the walls of Mohammed Mahmud and the area surrounding the former Greek Campus of the American University in Cairo (AUC). Awad’s art narrates the Egyptian revolution through reviving the centuries old pharaonic tradition of murals. The video was filmed by Rudolf Thome.