News / Arts & Entertainment

Arab American Museum Shows Arab Spring Protest Art

Arab American Museum Shows Arab Spring Protest Arti
X
February 11, 2014 3:57 AM
In many countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa, walls and buildings became the canvas for street art during the Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2011 and gave protestors a platform. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.

Arab American Museum Shows Arab Spring Protest Art

Kane Farabaugh
— In many countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa, walls and buildings became the canvas for street art during the Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2011 and gave protestors a platform. A collection of protest artwork is just one part of the exhibit called “Creative Dissent” at the Arab American Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The exhibit also explores how digital technology has changed the way some expressions of protest are created and disseminated.
 
When the Arab uprisings began, they took Islamic art professor Christiane Gruber by surprise. But as she watched events unfold, especially in Egypt, she began to focus on one aspect.
 
“I was fascinated as I was following it online, especially what was happening in Tahrir, by the extent to which the demonstrations were being articulated through all of this creative media, particularly through arts and through humor,” said Gruber.
 
Expressions of protest have fascinated Gruber for decades.  
 
“The arts play a really critical role in expressions of politics, and oftentimes when humans communicate with one another, especially in large public settings, like the streets or squares. They don’t just use language. They use art forms, they use very poignant images, they use repeated slogans,” said Gruber.
 
Gruber said that many of the slogans chanted in the streets from Tunis to Tahrir Square and beyond are themselves artistic expression.
 
“When you chant them over and over again, it’s almost like you are mimicking a heartbeat, so I’ve seen this quite a bit in the streets of Istanbul as well. So I can personally attest to the emotive resonance some of these might have,” said Gruber. 
 
That poetic rhythm weaves itself through the Creative Dissent exhibit Gruber curated at the Arab American Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The slogans join photographs of key moments during the uprisings, and stand next to carefully crafted images that take aim at leaders accused of oppression.
 
Gruber said her biggest challenge was the lack of original material.
 
"Curators tend to work with art objects so there are more traditional methods of exhibiting materials. These are not art objects.  Most of the materials, as I’m sure you noticed, are large scale reproductions of digital images,” explained Gruber.
 
Gruber points out that technology has changed the audience for many protest artists. Before the availability of digital technology and instant dissemination, some of this artwork might never have been seen beyond their original location.
 
“And I think without these other media, we wouldn’t have a show, because we’re bringing together a Facebook platform, puppet shows which are really in theaters, the chants which are in the streets, so we’re trying to give an idea of the really complex intersection of what’s happening out in the public, what’s happening online, what’s happening through livestream media, so it was a bit challenging to capture that chaos in a structured environment,” said Gruber.
 
That structured environment began as a symposium and grew into the exhibit now on display at the Arab American Museum. Gruber is working with the museum to take the exhibit on the road after it ends here in late February.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."