'Chouf! Qra!' (Watch! Read!)
In the middle of one of those periods in history where adversary powers are trying to take everybody along in their desired clash of fundamentalisms over some silly movie being made by some silly persons we still have rational strongholds. For freedom of expression is one of those strongholds civilization should not compromise on. It is exactly what Charlie Hebdo understood – the French magazine which dares publishing some cartoons in this time of twittered and manipulated #muslimrage. At Al Jazeera they quote one of the main editors of the magazine: “”I'm not asking strict Muslims to read Charlie Hebdo, just like I wouldn't go to a mosque to listen to speeches that go against everything I believe.” It could serve as a contemporary translation of Voltaire’s dictum “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
And that’s where it’s at. Point. If we have to skip irony and satire from our dictionaries we might as well stop being human. It is a simple thing understood globally, and it proved to be a strong strategy for those protesting in what we call the Arab Spring. From the street art which was stenciled on walls in numerous cities, to the expensive coffee table books which will surely follow. Long before street art became such a coffee table thingy, artists used self printed zines to spread pictures of their work. And that’s what younger generations in the Arab countries are doing as well. Mentioned earlier in this blog is the zine El Arab, and actually I was waiting for the second to come out. Here it is!
A little more distanced from the streets is the work that is exposed in the Pop Up Press Museum in Amsterdam, from Saturday 22nd of September on. The opening of the expo takes place at the International Day of Peace, but that could be a coincidence. The press release mentions work by Kifah al Reefi [Iraq], Sara Qaed Bahrein], Mohammed Shennawy [Egypt], Gihèn Ben Mahmoud [Tunisia] and many many more. The exposition will run through the end of December, so time enough for you to pass there if you are around. If not, you might want to order the catalogue which curator Joost Pollman compiled for the earlier showcase of the exposition during the Cartoondays in the Netherlands, June 2012. Order here.