Revolting Arts or Spatial Democracy: Performances of popular arts during the Egyptian Revolution
Bassma Reda Abou El Fadl1 and Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem2
1IMT Institute for Advanced Studies, Lucca, Italy;
2Queen’s University Belfast, UK
This paper investigates how spatial practices of Public art performance had transformed public space from being a congested traffic hub into an active and animated space for resistance that was equally accessible to different factions, social strata, media outlets and urban society, determined by popular culture and social responsibility. Tahrir Square was reproduced, in a process of “space adaptation” using Henri Lefebvre’s term, to accommodate forms of social organization and administration.[i] Among the spatial patterns of activities detected and analyzed this paper focus on particular forms of mass practices of art and freedom of expression that succeeded to transform Tahrir square into performative space and commemorate its spatial events. It attempts to interrogate how the power of artistic interventions has recalled socio-cultural memory through spatial forms that have negotiated middle grounds between deeply segregated political and social groups in moments of utopian democracy. Through analytical surveys and decoding of media recordings of the events, direct interviews with involved actors and witnesses, this paper offers insight into the ways protesters lent their artistry capacity to the performance of resistance to become an act of spatial festivity or commemoration of events. The paper presents series of analytical maps tracing how the role of art has shifted significantly from traditional freedom of expression modes as narrative of resistance into more sophisticated spatial performative ones that take on a new spatial vibrancy and purpose.
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