News / Arts & Entertainment

Egypt Turmoil Inspires New Art

Egypt Turmoil Inspires New Arti
X
August 26, 2013 10:56 AM
On an island in the Nile, surrounded by the tumultuous city of Cairo, award-winning artist Mohamed Abla has been commenting on Egyptian politics for decades. But as Heather Murdock reports for VOA from Cairo, in recent years, he says the politics have transformed the art.
Heather Murdock
On an island in the Nile, surrounded by the tumultuous city of Cairo, award-winning artist Mohamed Abla has been commenting on Egyptian politics for decades, he adds, politics have transformed the art.
 
This little boat is attached to a chain across a small waterway-part of the Nile River in Cairo.  It carries passengers back and forth across from the mainland to the island of Qorsaia for less than 15 cents per passenger.
 
A few minutes later, passengers get off the boat and the quiet farms of Qorsaia are both in the center of the city and worlds away.  
 
Artist Mohamed Abla has a house on the island, where he creates artwork that has been shown across Europe and America, in Cairo.  
 
In recent years, he said his art, like many other elements of Egyptian culture, has been focused on politics and the struggle to create a free, productive society out of the current chaos.
 
“I hope that we are going to develop our own democracy.  Our own I idea," he said. "An Egyptian way of doing democracy.”

In June, Abla stood with protesters demanding the fall of the government, then led by the Muslim Brotherhood, which he says tried to squash free expression.
 
But, he said, wholesale arrests of members will only escalate tensions that have left as many as 1,000 dead in recent weeks.  

Most died in battles as security forces attacked sit-ins, and dispersed rallies at gunpoint.

“Now part of the Egyptian society has been discussing that we are not going to get rid of Muslim Brothers, all.  We have to accept that there are young Muslim Brothers and some people that were not part of the violence,” Abla explaioned.

Military rule will also not stick, he says, because since the uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak in 2011, mass protests have become a part of Egyptian culture.
 
“I remember after the 18 days of 2011 the square was empty and I felt very lonely," Abla stated. "Many people they missed this atmosphere.”

Before the 18 days of protest that lead to Mubarak’s fall, he said, Egyptian art reflected local traditions and style.  Nowadays in Egypt, he said, art is less timely and more about shaping society.
 
“This changed the arts very much.  The people who used to make arts in a usual traditional [way]-now they do nothing because it is over now.  Now is the time of art that moves the people," Abla said. "Art that is reflective of the situation.”

In his most recent pieces, Abla documents rallies in Tahrir Square over the past two and a half years.  
 
In several pieces, pictures of protesters and soldiers are hung on strings in rows, rather than pasted like in a traditional collage to reflect what he says is the irony in a common expression: “Don’t hang your dirty laundry.”  Free expression, he says, can literally mean revealing a nations’ “dirt” and it is part of the path to freedom.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

Avery Sunshine is known for her irresistible combination of soul, jazz and gospel influences. She’s traveled the world entertaining audiences with her powerful voice, inspiring lyrics and infectious spirit. She joins host Shawna Renee on "The Soul Lounge" to perform and share the stories behind her new album, "The Sun Room."