Drawing through the Walls: Artists Beautify Cairo’s Barriers

Over the past several months the military council has erected massive stone barriers during street confrontations around the Interior Ministry near Tahrir Square. They have meant either to separate revolutionaries and police forces engaged in pitched battles, or, as a preventative measure to block the path to the ministry itself.

As a consequence, not only has Cairo’s traffic snarled even further, the city has grown ugly.

Here is an example:

On Qasr al-Aini Street

On March 9 revolutionaries decided to take a different tack, launching a campaign called ‘Drawing through the Walls’. Artists chose the day to set upon the erected barriers with brush, paint, and stencil. Beginning on Qasr al-Aini Street, across Sheikh Rihan, and down the now-(in)famous Mohamed Mahmoud, here is a collection of their work:

Qasr al-Aini Street, redone
Sheikh Rihan Street
Yousef el-Gindi Street, off Mohamed Mahmoud Street, as with all remaining pictures
el-Falaki Street
Mansour Street
Abdel Magid al-Ramali Street
Noubar Street; translation: Beware of the Families of Abideen; No to the Walls; Abideen - Revolutionaries and not Thugs

I’m not sure why this last wall off Mohamed Mahmoud Street didn’t receive the full artistic treatment. Perhaps the thugs, er, revolutionaries of Abideen preferred their warning? 🙂

Click here for a map of the area, and here, for full coverage of the project in the Egyptian English press.

Some of these pictures are rather simple, others reflect quite talented artistry. The striking resonance is of a world now lost. Paintings which extend the street and sidewalk as if all were normal best reflect this theme.

The world is not normal. Many revolutionaries are accused of sowing anarchy; of some this is surely true. Others, however, long for a world of freedom and beauty. They have registered their protest as best they know how, with creativity.

Beauty and creativity are the hallmarks of God. May these artists be honored in their imitation.

Note: This post was delayed about three weeks by Pope Shenouda’s death and other events, but has come back into the news as activists have partially torn down one wall as of yesterday. Click here for the article.

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