Reclaiming the City: Street Art of the Revolution

Heba Salem and Kantaro Taira

in Translating Egypt's Revolution

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9789774165337
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781617971303 | DOI:
Reclaiming the City: Street Art of the Revolution

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Draws on the concepts of striated and smooth space in Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus to translate the politics of street art of the revolution as “a performance and product of aesthetic smoothing that resists the dominant striated narratives of the state.” As the author argues, street art becomes a way for Egyptians to reclaim and re-appropriate urban space. From the first tags that called for the downfall of the regime, to the rock formations made from crumbles of broken pavement in Tahrir, and the elaborate murals memorializing the martyrs, street artists have challenged the state's instruments of monopolizing public space and homogenizing Egyptian life and identity. Over the past months, Egypt's Military Council has mounted a “war on graffiti” targeting political artwork that is now widespread in Egyptian cities. Graffiti works inciting protest, or critiquing the military junta and the state security forces, or articulating the demands of the revolution, have systematically been painted over, dismantled, or “cleaned up” and several artists have been harassed and arrested by the Military Council for bringing art to the street in a clear show-down and contest over both public space and the space of visual consumption.

Keywords: Revolution street art; Graffiti; Murals; Political artwork; Public expression; Art and public space; Striation and smoothing in urban space; Martyrs; Salafis

Chapter.  13014 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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