Gaza graffiti murals
Birmingham people defend the pro-Gaza graffiti mural of award-winning artist Mohammed Ali which was removed by police.
Artist Mohammed Ali, recent winner of a South Bank Show Award, has produced a series of graffiti murals on the streets of Birmingham, highlighting the recent Gaza crisis, and supporting Palestinian people.
The murals were sprayed on private walls in inner city areas of Birmingham, with slogans such as 'Free Gaza' and 'Free Palestine'. Artist and community consultant Seeyam Brijmohun writes about the impact of the recent Gaza murals on the community:
Graffiti for Gaza
Mohammed Ali is a Birmingham based British graffiti artists who sprays messages which are greatly received by communities in Birmingham UK. In the tradition of graffiti, the paintings are on walls located on routes with high human traffic and are more appealing to the younger generations.
Graffiti has traditionally been subversive as it battled with authority. Leaving graffiti tradition behind, the Gaza graffiti collection was not subversive because permission was sought from the owners of the all walls before the execution of the paintings. 'Legal graffiti' has become common practice as its popularity has been cultivated within contemporary arts.
'We hear your cries'
Mohammed Ali's recent collection of 'Free Gaza/Palestine' wall graffiti paintings (January 2009) are a reflection of the community in which they are exhibited. These political paintings are purposeful to and supported by all of the communities from all races and religions who recognise the hardships endured by people under the occupation of war.
There is a heightened sense of community cohesion as all communities unite in support of a peaceful visual graffiti protest to the human hardship in Gaza. The paintings are located in areas with large British Muslim demographic populations, who feel for the suffering people of Gaza.
Mohammed Ali's Gaza murals
After hardship comes ease
On a cold February morning Mohammed Ali and a crew of artists began executing the last painting in this Gaza collection. The graffiti uses both Arabic and English with the words 'After hardship comes ease', referring to the hardship endured by the people of Gaza and the hope for a better future.
BBC Newsnight had sent a crew to report on the Graffiti painting event. As with all of the other Gaza paintings, it was supported by both young and old. An elderly woman from her window intermittently peered at the development of the painting in between conducting her household chores.
Community support for the murals
A person passing by kindly bought refreshments for everyone in the graffiti crew. A group of young people, clothed in similar sports attire, stood in the cold for a couple of hours watching the wall’s progression whilst sharing information on the latest Xbox games. This local community in their own way gave unprecedented support to the message of hope proclaimed by the Gaza painting.
Why should a community with the socio-economic issues inherent within the inner-cities be so supportive of the Gaza collection, and what do they gain? The reason may be because they are a modest and reserved community who relate to hardship and through the graffiti art have found a voice to express their frustrations regarding the Gaza conflict. The graffiti collection acts as a cathartic vessel for this community to voice their pent up emotions.
Community voice silenced?
A few days after this graffiti event the police painted out an earlier painting in the Gaza collection. The removal of this legal graffiti silenced the community’s voice; the artistic vessel for community catharsis was sunk. It is likely for any modest and reserved community in any country to feel oppressed and persecuted if their 'voice' is silenced and their emotions forbidden.
Both the police and Mohammed Ali work towards community cohesion through the collaboration and involvement of all communities. The loss of the painting in the Gaza collection reveals an urgency and necessity for a more considered interaction by authority with activists, in their common pursuit towards the peace and harmony found in community cohesion.
Article submitted by contributor Seeyam Brijmohun.
last updated: 27/02/2009 at 17:58
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