The Road to Tahrir

“The Road to Tahrir: Front Line Images by Six Young Egyptian Photographers” is an epic photo illustration of the trials, tribulations and joy that came out of the Egyptian Revolution just this past year. The book was put together by six Egyptian photographers, ranging from Egyptian to foreign education and experience in the field of photogprahy. The book was segmented into sections such as “The One Million Day Rally” or the “Clean Revolution.” And within each section, the photographers were able to capture the true emotions of the Egyptian people–in their faces, the art and graffiti used, or the exchanges between say military and citizens.

One can say that the revolution in Egypt was fueled by Facebook, Twritter and other forms of online media. However, on the ground it was posters, graffiti and various other sources of art and drawing that kept the people engaged and allowed them to participate in the process. These outlets of art were a method of expression and freedom of speech that was not seen or was forbidden in many parts of Egyptian society. The government repressed many forms of political expression, especially when it blatantly disregarded the Egyptian government, military and especially the former president. But in the book we see how important this freedom of expression and speech through art like murals, posters and graffiti was so important. ¬†What is amazing is that these outlets of “freedom,” whether they are graffiti or murals, still exist and are present everywhere in Egypt. Almost as a reminder of what used to be.

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5 Responses to The Road to Tahrir

  1. A concept from your post that really struck me is the last sentence, where you state that graffiti and wall murals still exist in Egpyt, “almost as a reminder of what used to be.” I think that an interesting part of graffiti and public art is that it remains on walls, and is often edited, painted over, or sometimes, just fades. I think that this is an interesting phenomenon, since the progression and evolution of popular ideas and sentiments can be traced and analyzed simply by looking at the manner in which graffiti on a certain chunk of a wall has evolved. People often use primary sources such as interviews carry out research. In my opinion, the analysis of the evolution of public space is also an extremely valid way to find information.

  2. This is a beautiful piece of graffiti. Here, a person who could look like any person on the street, male or female, is literally calling for a Revolution. The message is very clear, especially with the bright color red of the word “Revolution”.

    I believe also that underneath the word Revolution is a date. This would help spread the word about a demonstration, but anonymously. It was dangerous for individual bloggers to express their opinions about the government or organize protests because they were often attacked, brought to trial, arrested, or imprisoned. Through graffiti, the people could get the word out to everyone without attaching their name and putting themselves in danger.

  3. This book also struck me when Prof. Bishara passed it around in class! Like you said, all the social media had a lot of influence on what happened, but the murals and graffiti haven’t gotten the same attention, despite their prevalence. They also give a really cool perspective of the youth culture in a country that is in the midst of a revolution. I am a little curious about what you think of the publication of the book itself. Do you know if it was published in Egypt? Also, as far as I remember, there was not a lot of text in the book. Do you think that makes the messages more striking, or could it have been enhanced with more descriptions?

  4. kevans01 says:

    Jessica, this is a really interesting post. Another person already commented on it, but I thought what you said about how these outlets of “freedom” that still exist almost act as a reminder of what life used to be was very moving and powerful. I never really fully processed that thought until after reading your post. The one question I do want to ask is that since many of the graffiti artist are of a younger generation, how do they know what times used to be if they grew with the oppression? I think it’s interesting to see the younger generation rebelling more than the older generation even though they’ve lived through the oppression. Why do you feel that?

  5. I think what graffiti does best as a medium is its permanence (to a certain extent). Unlike Facebook/Twitter (where news is immediately lost in your feed) or the news stations (which can easily be monitored), graffiti has a relatively permanent presence and, as an art form, allows for multiple interpretations. So many people were involved in the revolution in different ways and I think that some graffiti were so open to interpretation, that people could project their feelings/desires/hopes onto the graffiti and pick out their own message based on their stance.

    What’s great about it now is that it is a daily reminder of an amazing triumph.

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