Monthly Archives: November 2014

Week 10: Poetry from the Refugees

This week, I refocused my section back onto poetry from the Middle East of that time period. However, I used two artifacts from people whose family fled from the Middle East. The first artifact I used was a transcript of a YouTube video about Amal Kassir, a young Syrian-American poet who uses her words to bring attention to the events happening in the Middle East. This artifact was titled “The Conflict in Syria through the Eyes of a Young Poet” and it has Kassir discussing her poetry as well as performing some of it to describe the devastation of having to leave a place she considered her home. Though not exclusive to Egypt, I chose this artifact because I felt that Kassir captured the ideas of what it’s like to be facing a tyrant and being defiant in the face of danger. The second artifact I chose was a poem titled “I Am a Refugee” by an 80-year-old Syrian writer, Mohamed Raouf Bachir, who wrote about being exiled from his home into Turkey at his age. Though Bachir also did not write exclusively from Egypt or about Egypt, I felt that the feeling of having to leave a place one had called home for years (maybe even decades) because of safety or because of being thrown out (similar to week three’s Ganzeer) ¬†resonated with what was going on Egypt also.

I chose these articles because I felt like they covered the ideas of what we discussed this week on the ideas of the binaries we impose on the “Western” and the “Eastern” world and how, inside of these two poets, both of these binaries are combined. Kassir is a poet who resonates with the Western world because she is, ultimately, from it. With a mother that is American and being born in America and returning to it when things go disastrous in the Middle East, Kassir is part of the Western world as much as she is a part of the Eastern. I selected the poem by Bachir because I felt like it also connected these binaries because it was could be from a narrator that is traveling from the “Eastern” world to the “Western” world and wondering if they will be accepted into this society.

I think both of these poets showed hints of Political Idealism because of the fact that they had expectations for their countries to develop into a better democracy that would help them connect with other countries. Although, as I have learned throughout covering this subject, I feel like they also share a cosmopolitan view because they also believe that people have a say in the government.

Week 9: A Sad Panda in the Midst of a Revolution

This week, I shifted my focus onto an artist whose work is completely devoid of political meaning (at least to him) but somehow creeps up and says much about the world: Sad Panda. The artist titled after his postings of sad pandas all over Cairo has chosen to stay anonymous and sticks to himself. The first artifact I explored was an article called “The Melancholy of Sad Panda” by Fatma Ibrahim and Thoraia Abou Bakr, which discussed the idea of why this artist chooses to simply express this sadness. This mainly because he feels that the idea of loss and mourning is not clearly represented in the midst of a revolution where so many people have lost their lives. Though in one way his work seems pessimistic ¬†(he says, “sadness is never too far from you”), he brings in the reality of the situation: that job loss, death, a failing economy…all of these things are depressing and should be felt and validated. The second artifact I reviewed was a piece called “In Place of War,” a blog post by Ruth Daniels that explores a specific street art piece that Sad Panda did. This particular piece was a solider throwing a baby into the flames and was (according to the article) meant to be the idea of the dying of the future generation if continuing to be ruled by the current government. Attached was a video of the artist speaking about where he came up with the idea.

At first, when I first analyzed his pieces, I quickly categorized Sad Panda as a cosmopolitan, because he believes in the efforts of the people through networking. However, after analyzing these articles, I also feel like there’s traces of him being an idealist because he wants the government to be reformed in a way that will help Egypt prosper and become a key player in the world.

Week 8: Hend Kheera and the Rise of the Revolution

This week I chose to focus once again on the Egyptian art scene, specifically through the eyes of women. For this, I choose another graffiti artist, Hend Kheera, a 33 year old woman who was born in Cairo. Kheera’s work became a source of popularity in 2011, after the initial uprisings due to some of her blatant and thought provoking art. The first artifact I chose was an article from Rolling Stone magazine, titled “The Writings on the Wall,” by Michael Downey, which was also largely an interview with Kheera. In this article, Kheera talks about how she feels that graffiti is able to exploit the injustices of the government more explicitly than the media does, because graffiti cannot be ignored by people. She talks about how she feels strongly enough about her work to risk being arrested. The main focus of the particular artwork is the graffiti of “Don’t touch or castration awaits you,” a piece that she did in support of Samira Ibrahim, a woman who was strip-searched by the military and then took them to court but did not win. The second post was an article discussing an art gallery titled, “‘This Is Not Graffiti’: Street artists take their art indoors” written by Steven Viney. Viney explores the multiple artists and their art work in this piece and what the pieces meant to the artists he could talk to. One of the artists that was in the exhibit was Kheera who made an art piece of Jesus protesting with a blank sign about to get run over by a tank. He remarks that the art piece is met with “confusion to horror to chuckles” as people try to place the exact meaning of her art.

I focused on Hend Kheera because, as the weeks have begun to pass, I’ve noticed that I am most engaged with the idea of women and their role in the revolution. While many of their male counterparts (Banksy, Sad Panda, Ganzeer…) have earned worldwide acclaim, the women and their role in the revolution as artists has been more subtle but equally dynamic to what’s happened in Egypt. I think Kheera focuses largely on a cosmopolitan view on the revolution, because her artwork is used to engender discussion and critical thinking.