Saturday, September 02, 2006
The fine art of defiance
Artists express anger at Lebanon war
by Guy Smallman
“Are you with Spiderman?” enquires a representative of Hizbollah’s cultural wing.
I am nervously watching British stencil graffiti artist “Arofish” scale yet another crumbling wall in Beirut.
His design for the space involves images of Lebanese children defiantly flying kites in the ruins of south Beirut.
Kite flying is a traditional act of defiance used by Palestinian children to break the Israeli curfews. Here Arofish has also included some ghostly white, unattached kites to represent the children who did not survive the war.
He has previously scrawled less than flattering images of Ariel Sharon in occupied Palestine and defaced US bases in Baghdad.
The latter earned him a kicking from US marines and a few days in jail. They had tried to scare him by locking him up overnight with Iraqi resistance fighters.
This plan failed when they arrived the next morning to find him merrily chatting away and sharing food with his cellmates.
He is pleased at the opportunity to put up his art without being banged up for it. Hizbollah think he is bonkers but they love his stuff.
The street in which he is painting has been put aside for artists to express their feelings about the war.
A recently graduated student called Racha is painting an exquisite oil composition of the candle lighting in Martyrs Square. Her graduation was delayed by over a month due to the bombing. Now she is doing what she loves again, and doing her bit to bring something positive from the Israeli aggression.
An established Lebanese artist is working on a vast installation of 33 door-sized collages each representing a day of the war. The imagery is lurid but an honest depiction.
There are plenty of political caricatures on hand as well - my favourite being one of Condoleezza Rice as a demon with enormous fangs.
As I leave this cultural oasis and head back through the devastation, I can’t help thinking that this flies in the face of the image of Lebanese resistance shown on CNN.