No guest post today – instead I wanted to write about the Bomb It 2 episodes that we uploaded to Babelgum this week.
The attitudes and motivations of graffiti and street artists in the Palestinian refugee camps on the West Bank is quite different than those of most writer’s I have spoken to around the world. Their work is much more politicized – it centers around the struggle that they face every day. I had the pleasure of meeting and filmming four current and former graffiti artists and street artists in the Muhnned Alazzh, Ayed Arafah, Aysar Daward and Khaled Ajainia. The results of those interviews now comprise three Bomb It 2 Webisodes on our Babelgum channel. Let me know what you think!
The key difference of West Bank writers was the subject matter that they wrote about – how they used graffiti as a means of expression. Traditionally in the camps, graffiti has been a method of communication between the Palestinian leaders and the people. Also as a means of communication between people in the camps.
From those early uses a number of artists moved into more creative uses of graffiti and street art. Muhnned and Aysar both are heavily influenced by slain Palestinian caricaturist Naji Alali – painting his work throughout the camps.
The original work painted for my by Ayed Arafah deals with the tragedy that he is so close to the sea, but because of his status, he has never been allowed to see the sea.
One of the most interesting discussions was how the artists felt about painting on the “Apartheid Wall” the gigantic separation between Israel and the West Bank. The dominant position was that by beautifying the wall with art – you make it acceptable, that instead of talking about how horrible it is, you devolve into discussions about the art. They want to retain the brutal nature of the wall, and not beautify it with art. An interesting counterpoint by Khaled Ajainia was that while life in the camps is brutal, it is important to embrace art and celebrate life.