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Mona Abaza

Is Cairene Graffiti Losing Momentum?

[Late graffiti artist Hisham Rizq, killed in July 2014, painted by Ammar Abu Bakr. Captured 12 September 2014]

Clearly Cairene graffiti has lost momentum during this year. Having been the faithful barometer of the revolution over the past three years, graffiti has recently faced transmutations and drawbacks that run parallel with the political process of restoring “order” in the street. The heartbreaking story of the recent death of a cheerful and bright young graffiti artist, nineteen-year-old Hisham Rizq, completes this sad picture. He had disappeared a week before his corpse was ...

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Three Travelling Plaques Become Four in Mohamed Mahmoud Street

[The Arabic reads:

This article should be read as the continuation of a series I wrote for Jadaliyya on art and the Egyptian revolution, the most recent of which was posted on 25 January 2013 and entitled “The Dramaturgy of a Street Corner”. For the past three years, graffiti in Egypt has drawn a record level of attention from the international media. If one performs a Google search using the keywords “graffiti Egypt”, about 10,900,000 results appear. If one searches for the same keywords on ...

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Intimidation and Resistance: Imagining Gender in Cairene Graffiti

[Caption: “Don’t categorize me”. Photo by Mona Abaza (Captured 13 September 2012)]

The issue of women’s empowerment continues to be of paramount significance in determining the future of the incomplete Arab revolutions. Numerous scholars, activists, and feminists have commented with concern about the precarious position of women after the contagious revolutions, which started in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Many have expressed anxiety that the controversial gender issue in the Middle East will dominate the coming years, as even Christian leaders transmit ...

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The Dramaturgy of A Street Corner

[Street cafe set up at the intersection of Mohamed Mahmoud Street and Tahrir Square. Photo by Mona Abaza (Captured 30 April 2012)]

Much like the ongoing revolutionary struggle in Egypt, this short piece is part of an in-progress work to chronicle the evolution of revolutionary art on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, also known as the “street of the eyes of freedom”—nicknamed as such since many protesters lost their eyes on that same street after being targeted by professional snipers during protests in 2011. (See previous articles on this subject by clicking here, here, here, here, and here. Also see interview ...

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The Revolution's Barometer

[Half-Mubarak/Half-Tantawi mural repainted with Amr Mousa and Ahmed Shafiq appearing in the background. Photo by Mona Abaza]

The Mohammed Mahmud wall remains alive and kicking through its graffiti, which is getting altered by the hour. The walls continue to be whitened thanks to the efforts of Egyptian authorities. Yet drawings keep on appearing layers after layers to cover the older ones and the white paint. Not only have the walls of Mohammed Mahmud Street become “a memorial space,” as I have noted in a previous contribution, but also a barometer of the Egyptian revolution. The murals seem to be ...

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The Buraqs of "Tahrir"

[Alaa Awad Buraq mural with focus on the chariot’s weel. Photo by Mona Abaza.]

The aesthetic and political significance of the murals and the graffiti of Mohammed Mahmud Street continue to draw much attention due to their mesmerizing beauty and their crucial significance for the visual and artistic narration of the revolution. It is not only the murals’ aesthetic appeal that has captured the imagination of many observers, but also how they exemplify a fascinating fusion between a variety of cultural artistic traditions that portray Egypt’s rich ...

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The Art of Narrating the Egyptian Revolution: An Interview with Alaa Awad

[Alaa Awad with Mona Abaza. Image from Video.]

The paintings on the walls of Mohamed Mahmud Street have generated a great deal of attention in the past months. In an interview with Mona Abaza, artist Alaa Awad takes us through the journey of creating the impressive murals he painted on the walls of Mohammed Mahmud and the area surrounding the former Greek Campus of the American University in Cairo (AUC). Awad’s art narrates the Egyptian revolution through reviving the centuries old pharaonic tradition of murals. The ...

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An Emerging Memorial Space? In Praise of Mohammed Mahmud Street

[Mohammed Mahmud Street wall. Image from the author.]

Mohammed Mahmud Street, also known as sharei’ uyuun al-hurriyyah (the street of the eyes of freedom), is becoming an iconic space. The street has been recently discovered by numerous photographers and passersby, not only for its mesmerizing graffiti but also for the curiosity it has raised; for the remembrance of the martyrs who were killed there; for journalists who still want to investigate the violent events that took place around that area during the course of ...

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Academic Tourists Sight-Seeing the Arab Spring

[American University in Cairo downtown campus. Image Source:]

I would like to share with this short piece a concern that several of us in academia in Cairo have been facing with the impact of the Arab Spring, to point to some frustrations regarding the continuing unequal academic relationship between so-called “local” and Western experts of the Middle East, between broadly speaking the North and the South (although this classification is clearly clichéd), and the reshuffling of the international division of labour in the academic ...

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