Arab Pop Culture : Cartoon and graphitis


On April 22nd, I was present at the Arab Pop Culture, to cover the 4th session at 11 am at Irwin Conference Room. The moderator was DEREK BOUSE.

The conference started with Tina Sleiman, from Zayed University in Dubai. She discussed Fragments of Identity: Perceptions and Visual Popular Culture in the Arab Region. Sleiman explained how her students, Emirati females, have different ways to deal with visual arts. They basically work on collecting images. She showed how each person is influenced by the type of visual pop culture they grow up with. Then she related to some examples, as Majed magazine, first published in 1979 and still going on and as Sindibad (anyone raised in Egypt will relate to it).

Sleiman showing the work of her students

 Then Hala Abou Taleb, from the University of Jordan, took the lead.” Today we are talking about cartoon”, she said. According to her we should look for a different way of persistence for Muslims; it is either Haifa or Binladen! If they represent the Arab Muslims as villains, belly dancers, billionaires, we definitely need to find a place where we are common people. Latinos made use of the spaces on the walls. Certain walls carry political messages. Why don’t Arabs and Muslims do that? In Palestine, some activists-artists are trying to occupy the spaces of these walls with art, definitely a political message. Arabs are known 2 be beautiful people with beautiful art. WE have to reclaim it.

Then Harris Bresslow, from the American University of Sharjah, started talking about graphitis in Lebanon. He said they are about sex, politics and religion. “If you want to go to Palestine, go to Bliss Street, you will find many arrows saying “nahwa Falesteen” To Palestine .  He showed pictures showing many graphitis on the walls, each one carrying a different message, most of them political. He ended his presentation with a video of a rap song about graphitis as well.

Hashem, from the American University of Sharjah, started another discussion: LOL, Star academy, Bab Al Hara are signs of what is happening in our culture. “I think that anytime you have majority of any culture, som1 or something will become popular.”

“My kids are faster than me in writing a msg. They wake up at 6 am and spend time messaging their friends in the state.” He explained how electronic devices affected the sleeping habits of kids.

Due to time inconvenience, only 2 questions were asked. DR Ramez asks Sleiman what is her conclusion about her presentation. She said, people work is related to their childhood and the way they grew up. Second question was directed to Hala. “Why do we care about how Arabs are looked at?”She said when I see how foreigners are treated by us when they come; the image is haunting us, politically speaking. “Unfortunately we bring pictures like Bin Laden and al Zarqawi. We help representing ourselves in a bad way.

Personally I believe people in Lebanon should give more importance to the drawings on the streets, I agree

With Hala Abou Taleb, we should take advantage of the city walls, and spread along messages, walls could be looked at as public blogs, where each individual can express his/her opinion about a certain issue.

I enjoyed looking at Bresslow’s pictures. We see this graphitis everyday on our way to work or on our way back home, but most of them don’t take time and think about its meanings, Bresslow explained how each of these wall pictures carried a different political message.

I was really happy to live cover such an event through Twitter, and LAU Social live, I was even happier when I saw that one of my tweets was retweeted, it showed that the audience was engaged in the coverage. I think that uploading videos and pictures is very affective in attracting more audience. For the 1st time I did a well job, but I believe for the next time I need to take more pictures. Off course one retweet is not enough, but I guess if I have announced a couple of days earlier what I am going to cover, more people would have joined me, maybe next time I could ask people on twitter questions, this way they will find themselves connected to the issue we are covering.


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