Egypt’s irrepressible spirit of rebellion: The art of Mohamed Mahmoud Street

The Dramaturgy of A Street Corner

 Jan 25 2013 by Mona Abaza, http://www.jadaliyya.com
[Street cafe set up at the intersection of Mohamed Mahmoud Street and Tahrir Square. Photo by Mona Abaza (Captured 30 April 2012)] [Street cafe set up at the intersection of Mohamed Mahmoud Street and Tahrir Square. Photo by Mona Abaza (Captured 30 April 2012)]

Much like the ongoing revolutionary struggle in Egypt, this short piece is part of an in-progress work to chronicle the evolution of revolutionary art on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, also known as the “street of the eyes of freedom”—nicknamed as such since many protesters lost their eyes on that same street after being targeted by professional snipers during protests in 2011. (See previous articles on this subject by clicking here, here, here, here, and here. Also see interview with artist Alaa Awad on the subject by clicking here).

For a second consecutive year, Mohammed Mahmud Street witnessed intensive turmoil, and chronic violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces. Clashes ensued again in November 2012, ironically in the context of demonstrations that were organized to commemorate the previous year’s clashes of 19-24 November 2011, known as the Mohamed Mahdmoud Street battles. The clashes seemed like a farcical reenactment of those of the previous year, much like the Mohamed Morsi presidency and the Muslim Brotherhood, for many revolutionaries, are farcically reenacting the same policies, mindset, and discourse of the Hosni Mubarak regime.

Repertoire here might perhaps be one key concept that can help explain why the regular use of violence by authorities, and the recycling of the old regime’s discourses by the perpetrators of such violence have become dominant elements in the apparent counter-revolution led by the Muslim Brotherhood. Many anticipate that 2013 will be a decisive year for the wielders of power in their (recurrently violent) confrontations with the large segments of the population that are growingly losing faith in the Muslim Brotherhood. The hastily drafted constitution, and the overt threat it poses to basic principles of human rights and citizenship, perhaps underscore the Brotherhood’s desperation and angst over their faltering efforts to assert their control over—or as some call it, to “Brotherhoodize”—the state. Continue reading

Artists use graffiti to tell Egypt revolution’s stories


AlJazeeraEnglish
Running south from Tahrir Square toward Egypt’s interior ministry in central Cairo, Mohamed Mahmoud street has become one of the revolution’s most violent battlegrounds. Twelve people died in the area during February street battles between protesters and police stemming from a deadly football riot in Port Said.

With the neighbourhood calm, at least for the moment, Mohamed Mahmoud now serves as a canvas for some of Egypt’s most creative revolutionary street art.

Murals portraying the revolution’s dead as martyrs and the military as a predatory monster spread along walls next to figurative paintings that draw inspiration from millenia-old pharaonic art. Nearby, the artists debate with anxious business owners, and the revolution continues.

Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh reports from Cairo.