Walls of Freedom documents the story of the Egyptian Revolution through street art. Here, in a photo by Munir Sayegh from February 2012, Ammar Abou Bakr, Alaa Awad, and Hanaa Degham’s Martyr Mural, commemorating those who died in the Port Said Massacre.

“The visual landscape of many cities has become a commercial space. Direct, raw messages like the ones here are rare and really capture a nation’s struggle for freedom,” co-editor Basma Hamdy says. Alaa Awad’s work photographed by Ali Khaled.

This stencil by Ammar AbouBakr, photographed by Maggie Ossama, depicts a sniper who intentionally shot at protesters’ eyes.

Case McClaim painted this image of Khalid Said, who was killed by Egyptian security forces, on the Berlin Wall. Photograph by Joel Sames.

Ammar Abou Bakr and a team painted this trompe l’oeil effect on a military barrier as part of the "No Walls" campaign. Photograph by Munir Sayegh.

"The one who delegates does not die," reads this Tantawy/Mubarak art by Omar Fathy, photographed by JoAnna Pollonais.

A "mural of lost eyes" by Ammar Abou Bakr, photographed by Beshoy Fayez.

"Tank v. Bread Boy" by Ganzeer, photographed by JoAnna Pollonais.

A smiley barrier wall by Zeft, photographed by Amru Salahuddien.

Amr Nazeer and the “coloring thru corruption team” painted these bright hues to draw attention to crumbling infrastructure.

“We lost many beautiful people to the revolution, but there was always a sense of hope. It was horrible, but here was a sense of euphoria, patriotism, and unity,” Hamdy says.

“I think anyone who values life, love, dignity and freedom will value this book.”

Co.Design

A Look At The Street Art That Spurred A Revolution

Walls of Freedom is a comprehensive look at the provocative visuals that helped overthrow a regime during the Arab Spring.

Walls of Freedom, a new book currently seeking funding on Indiegogo, offers a striking view of the role of street art during the Egyptian Revolution, as seen through the eyes, art, and words of those who lived—and continue to live—through the volatile transition. “The visual landscape of many cities has become a commercial space. Direct, raw messages like the ones here are rare and really capture a nation’s struggle for freedom,” co-editor Basma Hamdy tells Co.Design.

Though the violent initial clashes in January 2011 set in motion the events that would oust President Hosni Mubarak, Hamdy says the situation may actually be worse now than it was back during those intense early days. “There are frequent power cuts, petrol shortages, muggings on the street, sexual harassment, and other major problems facing people living their day to day lives.” As such, the authors’ biggest challenge came from their desire to make the book more than just a fleeting glimpse of an ongoing struggle. Rather than organizing the book by artist or subject, they took on the monumental task of creating a timeline of sorts to show how art and politics fed into each other. This meant tracking down specific shots of particular works—many of which had already been censored or painted over—taken by photographers who often risked their lives to preserve the moment.

When they began, they enrolled in a tedious, intimate process of asking friends of friends and really anyone at all for morsels of information about the provocateurs and documentarians they were after. In the end, they managed to include the efforts of more than 50 photographers and 30 artists in the collection.

In addition to the visuals, providing context and smart analysis was essential to making the book a comprehensive testimonial. “It wasn’t enough for us to show photos and dates,” Hamdy says. “It was extremely necessary to analyze every aspect of the street art movement.” They invited Egyptologists and art historians to discuss its cultural roots and larger role in the revolution, while activists and artists shared insights and stories that bridge the gap between the personal and political.

This vivid record is a fitting tribute to the lasting effects of ephemeral art, immortalizing those who made their mark. “We lost many beautiful people to the revolution, but there was always a sense of hope," Hamdy says. "It was horrible, but here was a sense of euphoria, patriotism, and unity. I think anyone who values life, love, dignity and freedom will value this book.” As political developments continue to unfold, perhaps the book will serve as a useful model for documenting and commenting on the revolution.

Contribute to the Walls of Freedom Indiegogo campaign here.

Add New Comment

0 Comments