Jun
20

The evolution of Cairo’s Street Art.

When we visit a city during a vacation or a trip around the world we are usually there for a moment in time. We usually spend a few days maybe a week or two if we like the place and then leave and say “one day we’ll come back”. The reality of a trip around the world is that it really doesn’t allow us to spend much longer in a city because we want to carry on with the limited time and funds we may have. I was lucky enough to spend 7 months of my 2 year trip around the world in Cairo over the span of 13 months. During that time I was able to witness many amazing things from the Great Pyramids of Giza, the most beautiful ancient temple in Egypt, the 1st and 2nd year anniversary of the Egyptian revolution along with going to vote with my boyfriend (now ex) for President for the 1st time ever in the history of Egypt and also be in Tahrir Sq. moments after the historical announcement of Egypt’s new President. Even after seeing all those ancient and historic events in person what I liked seeing most was the evolution of Cairo’s street art.

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ev·o·lu·tion - /ˌevəˈlo͞oSHən/

Noun
  1. The process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the…
  2. The gradual development of something, esp. from a simple to a more complex form.
Synonyms
development – growth – progress

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Look at #2 that is exactly what I saw happen in Cairo’s street art scene during the time I lived in Cairo. I watched it evolve from mostly words written on walls with a few murals here and there to more intricate pieces of art with more meaning than words can ever have. After the revolution many Egyptians were finally able to express themselves artistically and in public. The walls near Tahrir Sq. became the canvas for expression of bottled up fears they had and the new freedoms they were seeking (and still are today).  To watch the murals progress into something more complex during the time I spent in Cairo is something I looked forward to every day while I lived in Cairo.

Cairo Street Art

This is a small collage of some of the images I used in a previous post about Cairo’s revolution street art over a year ago so you can see what it is I am talking about (be sure to click on the link to see all the photos).


Cairo Street Art

An Egyptian painting the latest piece of street art near Tahrir Sq.

Cairo Street Art

When I arrived in Cairo the 3rd time the man with open arms was already painted. Within a week or two I witnessed this being painted.

Cairo Street Art

The finished product. The guy in the red shirt is shouting, “Drop the old system/government and REFORM”. They painting next to him is a painting of a member of the Muslim Brotherhood shouting, “We will implement the law even if we don’t obey it ourselves”. They are calling the Muslim Brotherhood hypocrites.

Cairo Street Art

A few weeks after that I came back to find a 3rd painting. It’s just a painting of an old man who has had enough of everything happening.

Cairo Street Art

Yes I saw it go from one painting to 4 amazing paintings. The last painting is a painting of  President Morsi ripping his shirt open like Superman and showing the world his secret identity. Instead of the amazing “S” it is the symbol of the Muslim Brotherhood. He is hiding his true colors and really is the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Cairo Street Art

Stencil art of President Morsi kissing the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. He is sleeping with the devil.

Cairo Street Art

The best 11 word open letter to a President we will ever find on Earth.

Cairo Street Art

My Egyptian friends & I discussed this one and we believe it is talking about how the MB (Muslim Brotherhood) is brainwashing the people of Egypt as they lead the people.

Cairo Street Art

This is one of my favorite pieces of street art I have ever encountered in my life. This needs no explanation it’s sad when even birds need a gas mask.

Cairo Street Art

Along with the one above this is another one of my favorite pieces of street art. It’s my favorite Egyptian Queen Nefertiti also wearing a gas mask.

Cairo Street Art

After the government painted over the entire wall that was a huge mural of the martyrs people repainted a mini one in honor of them on a smaller portion of the wall. You can see the whole mural in my previous post, “ Cairo’s revolution street art“.

Cairo Street Art

A.C.A.B. = “All Cops Are Bitches”
The detail of the cop about to beat the street artist is beautiful. Another note is the faces of the cops are the faces of ex Pres. Mubarak.

Cairo Street Art

This was painted after the backlash of the mini movie that caused riots across Arab countries around the world. I love that they used languages from around the world, because the reality is Muslims are not just Arab they are of all races and cultures.

Cairo Street Art

People for the continuing revolution made a sign renaming Mohamad Mahmoud St. to “Freedom Eyes St.”

Mohamad Mahmoud St. is where most of the murals can be found because it is where the majority of the clashes have taken place. It’s one of the many streets that leads into Tahrir Sq.

Cairo Street Art

I am no archaeologist, but it looks like a something taken from the temples. I honestly don’t know what this means, but it’s beautiful.

Cairo Street Art

Painted by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood:
“I am a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, damn it I am the revolution.”

Cairo Street Art

This was written after President Morsi visited the leaders of many neighboring countries including Iran and was basking in media attention.

Cairo Street Art

I watched as a group of people pasted a stencil and then painted over it to have what is below.

Cairo Street Art

On the left is a painted image of a martyr and written in black is “Your death wont go in vain.”. The middle painting is images of another martyr Mohamed Hessien (Christy) and it says “Christy is dead, I will say that he is alive, cause heaven has no death and you don’t enter it for free. I am not a thug.”

Cairo Street Art

This used to be a restaurant that one of my friends would visit frequently and one day he showed up and it was a brick wall. The mural says, “The police serves the authorities not the people.” as a protester is being beat. It’s a take on a sign that used to hang in every police station saying, “The police serves the people.”.

Cairo Street Art

On the left is a painting of President Morsi looking in a mirror with the reflection of ex President Mubarak.
On the right is a painting of Amr Salah who was killed by the police with the words “What guilt was Amr Salah killed for?” around him.

Cairo Street Art

The Egyptian flag recreated with images of women. Women are fighting in the revolution as well and are fighting for better rights, equal treatment and less harassment.

Cairo Street Art

Egyptians hate cops. The cops are so corrupt and now only working for the authorities and rarely help the people.

Cairo Street Art

We are one… we are all Egypt!

Cairo Street Art

When I saw this one for the 1st time I was with my boyfriend and our hearts sank. We read it and couldn’t believe it. Well we could, but didn’t want to believe it. We know a lot of homophobia exist in Egypt, but try and not think about it. Now though here it is in the middle of Cairo an image of two cops kissing and above it saying “COPS are GAYS” basically “COPS are ANIMALS, STUPID or EVIL” fill in GAY with any negative meaning and that is what you have.  I of course had to take a photo of it, because street art is a form of expression and well we won’t always agree with it.

Cairo Street Art

Different martyrs painted with wings, because they are now in heaven and are our angels.

Street art in Cairo

I still remember hearing about this one. My friend Giulia from Travel Reportage shared the photo with me that she had seen shared on Facebook and I couldn’t believe it. I knew I had to get down there immediately to take my own photo before someone painted over it. I went down there with my boyfriend and we were in such a state of excitement I can still remember the feeling today. To see that someone painted over “COPS are GAYS” and write “HOMOPHOBIA IS NOT REVOLUTIONARY” along with turning the mustaches into a rainbow is something I couldn’t have even imagined. Too this day I still want to know who did it and just thank them for it. This is the 1st PRO-GAY piece of art I believe has ever been painted on the streets of Cairo for the world to see. This is an image I would love for the world to see and realize “HATE is not REVOLUTIONARY”.

It’s about to be a year to the date that President Morsi was elected President and the people of Egypt are still not happy. He has steered the revolution away from the reform and freedoms the people want. On June 30th their will be huge protest both for and against him in Cairo. I pray that no more blood is shed in vain for rights and freedoms all people should have. I miss Cairo more than you can ever imagine, it became my second home. I spent enough time there to fall in love and leave heartbroken and make amazing friendships I still cherish today. I miss a million things, and one of them is roaming the streets of Cairo and watching the street art evolve into something more than just words. I hope one day when they make a proper museum for the Egyptian revolution pictures of some of these masterpieces make it on the walls of it. I also hope that the people of Egypt continue to express themselves in forms that are not hurting anyone like street art whether it is for or against the government and it continues to evolve.

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Comments

  1. That’s a really beautiful graffiti with a great message. At least someone finally had the guts to do that.

  2. Great job with all the photos and translations Jaime!
    You know how much I was disappointed when I first saw the “cops are gays” graffiti but then they actually changed it into something very nice and unexpected! I wonder if that one is still there. Hope so:)
    There are some really great street artists in Egypt and it’s so interesting to follow their work, it gives you the feeling of “what’s cooking”… :)
    Giulia recently posted..You know you are in Italy when you find yourself in a Pesto competition

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thank you very much Giulia. and yes I know how angry you were when you saw the horrible “COPS ARE GAYS”… I felt the same way and even more I am sure. I still remember seeing it with him and we were holding hands and I just wanted to cry. I’m happy though that it had a happy ending and someone had the balls to paint over it and paint a beautiful message. I wonder if it is still there. I know it was still there about a month ago cus he told me it’s still there, but not sure if today. I’ll ask and find out.

      Oh & yes I loved following all their work and waiting to see WHATS NEXT? I miss that so much!

  3. I love it! Some of it is truly remarkable and so different from what we see on London streets.
    Jo (The Blond) recently posted..The Blond Confessions: getting over my divorce

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Yes Jo it’s so remarkable and so different then what you see else where around the world. I always say street art displays the struggles of the people living in that city and well you can see the struggles of the people of Egypt here for sure.

  4. First, I want to backhand bitch-slap the moron(s) who wrote ‘cops are gays’. Fucking idiot(s). Seriously, not the way forward, Egypt!

    But this is a really interesting post, and it’s great to see how Egyptians are expressing themselves – although of course, the reasons they’re making these murals aren’t to be applauded (i.e. corruption of police and politicians). Hopefully Egypt can get on the path to democracy without further bloodshed.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Food in Choco, or Pescado, Pescado, Pescado

    • Jaime Davila says:

      I know Tom I wanted to do the same but you just can’t. It is ignorance and something that is taught here. Until that is changed nothing we can do about it but help spread the opposite message. I love that in the end it turned out to be something even more amazing & something I was able to witness for myself. Glad you found the post interesting. That is what I wanted people to think because it’s something that does not get enough attention. The peaceful things people do never get attention.

  5. Val S. NYC says:

    What an amazing graffiti! Hope I have the chance to visit those streets soon. :)

  6. Such intense murals!
    Street art is such a great way to convey a political and social statement. Unlike other forms of art, it’s out there for everyone to see and you just can’t ignore it as long as you walk out in the streets.
    Lucky you for being a witness of such times in Egypt – that’s something not many travelers to Egypt, in other moments in history, are going to be able to experience! Priceless.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks so much Zara, I love what you said about street art that is the truth. I was lucky to be able to witness so many histroical moments in Egypt’s history. It’s moments I will be able to share for the rest of my life.

  7. Great photography and observations! I love street art!

  8. Nothing to thank you Jaime, simply addicted to street art ha ha ha
    Marysia @ My Travel Affairs recently posted..Lucerne Lovely Light

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