By Atiaf Zaid Alwazir
Walking through the old city in Sana’a there is no doubt that art is alive and is a part of our culture. Architectural beauty is not only appreciated but expected as well.
The Revolution has revealed many hidden talents. “We have talent, but the Revolution gave us the opportunity to express them,” said Khallad al-Faqih member of al-Fajr Youth Coalition. Artists have used these talents to promote principles of the Revolution and provide inspiration and entertainment for protesters.
Many artists viewed Yemen as a “grave for talent” because the culture does not necessarily encourage artistic expression and some even look down upon it. There are very few art schools, and in the university of the capital Sana’a, there is no art department. Artists hope that after the revolution, there will be a stronger appreciation for the arts in Yemen.
As their role in Change squares increases, so does the threat against them by security forces. Artists have sometimes been prevented to bring in their equipment to the square and sometimes their belongings have been confiscated.
This is a short intro to revolutionary art found at Change Square in Sana’a. This list of talented individuals gives hope that Art is not dead and may flourish in the new Yemen.
Music: Traditional ‘Oud artist Wissam Al-Qubaty, rapper Ghamdan Ali and guitarist Ahmed Asery are using very different music styles to express revolutionary desires. They sing on social inequality, injustice, and hope for the future. Last night, artist Wissam Al-Qubaty was chewing qat and entertaining his colleagues at the tent with the beautiful sound of ‘Oud. Friends around him admired the sounds, and one remarked “I wish I could play ‘Oud too.”
Theater: “A Nation for All” coalition (الوطن للجميع) organized a play at the square entitled “Enough Injustice!” in collaboration with actors and singers from the group “Youth for the Future”. This group is dedicated to using artistic expression for awareness raising. The play was well received as people felt that they could easily relate to it. Theater and visual art may be the best form of awareness raising in a society with very high illiteracy rates.
Poetry: We Yemenis love poetry, it is in everything we do including this Revolution. Poetry’s role began to decrease, but with the revolution there is a sense of revival. I began to pay attention to this after a French journalist, Ségolène Samouiller, asked me about the role of poetry in the Revolution.
On a daily basis on stage, at least one person has a poetry reading or recital. Sometimes it is their own poem, sometimes not. Poetry found at the square includes classical Arabic and popular poems, while the audience always interacts well with poetry.
One group at the square the “Coalition of Talented Yemenis (for literature, art, and culture)”, uses art to advocate for rights, principles of the revolution, and artistic expression. They work on promoting poetry by conducting many activities including: training for young poets on perfecting language and the power of recital. They have also collected revolutionary poetry in a comprehensive book that they hope to publish soon, once they have gathered enough funding. In addition, many of the newspapers published at the square dedicate a section for poetry giving a chance for anyone to participate and submit their poems.
Painting: Painters are also taking their place at the square. The movement “Youth for Freedom and Justice Movement” use their tent as a space for artists and art lovers to participate in expressing their emotions through painting. Art teachers are sometimes present to offer feedback and help young artists. Through their paintings they hope that people will express their inner feelings, and also use this space as a forum for awareness raising. “Art plays an important role in awareness. The number of people that come to our studio is a positive indicator of the civic state we hope for in the future,” said Hazbar al-Maqtary, member of the group. So far, there have been at least three visual art exhibits at the square.
The power of visual art is the reason political cartoonists are publishing their cartoons in the various square newspapers. Assim Al-Madwaly is a young poet and cartoonist who believes that images have the power to change minds. Kamal Sharaf another political cartoonist was previously imprisoned for his cartoons, but today continues to draw.
The importance of the “paint brush” was an important factor in encouraging one youth group to conduct a workshop for children of martyrs. A day was dedicated for them to draw and express their emotions as a form of art therapy, to accompany them in their healing.
Photography & Film: Yemeni Photographers such as Arwa Othman and Abdulrahman Jaber, or filmmakers such as Sara Ishaq and Abdurahman Hussain had the courage to be at the forefront to document the revolution and inspire others with their artistic talents. Their photographs and short clips have allowed the world to see what is happening in Yemen through Yemeni eyes.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect La Voix du Yémen’s editorial policy.
Article first published on May 7, 2011Français
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