Contemporary art Egypt

Graffiti art honours Egypt's revolution

German street artist Case is due to paint a portrait of Khaled Said in Cairo

German street art collective Ma'Claim have painted murals in Egypt (Photo: Joel Sames)

ALEXANDRIA. Since revolution swept through Egypt earlier this year, street art has appeared across the Arab country. As part of a graffiti project initiated by the Goethe Institute, German street art collective Ma'Claim has been invited to paint several murals in Alexandria, the hometown of Khaled Said, whose alleged murder by two policemen in the street in June 2010 contributed to sparking the revolution.

The first mural, finished on 23 October, consists of four panels depicting a sea of clenched fists punching the air, with each panel bearing a single hand offering the peace sign. “It's about the power of a movement,” said Ma'Claim member Andreas von Chrzanowski, aka Case. The German artist also intends to paint a portrait of Said in Cairo, although he said finding a suitable wall in the Egyptian capital is difficult “as there is military everywhere.”

The project reflects the growth of graffiti art in Egypt, where more and more people are taking to the streets to express themselves. “From late-February until mid-March lots of people covered most of the walls in Alexandria with different types of wall paintings,” said Daniel Stoevesandt, the director of the Goethe Institute in Alexandria. “Graffiti has been used to keep the memory alive of those who died or disappeared during the revolution and therefore the medium has become very important.” Restricted by a lack of coloured spray paints, much of the street art in Egypt is basic, consisting mainly of slogans and stencils, says Case. “There is not much colour—Egyptian street artists stick to black and white,” he said.

At the end of September, Case painted Said's face on a section of the Berlin Wall to mark the Friedrich Ebert Foundation's awarding of its annual Human Rights Award to the Egyptian blogger. The work is due to be permanently installed in Berlin's Freedom Park. For Case, painting on the Berlin Wall had personal resonance. “I grew up in East Germany and was 11 when the wall came down,” he said. “Khaled Said stands for something similar to the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

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