The so-called “Arab Spring” of 2011 have too often been analyzed by commentators and journalists as unexpected outbursts of violence or as the result of power games between western states. This kind of short-sightedness and Islamophobic positions have prevented us from fully understanding what was happening in the squares of Tunis, Cairo or Damascus: a young generation was demanding freedom and was questioning all the old political, religious and gender paradigms.
This spirit of freedom has been collected and elaborated by Arab intellectuals, artists and writers, in their cinema productions, on the walls of their cities, in novels, poems and songs. They have been the storytellers of both the genesis and the consequences of the protest movements. This volume intends to give credit to this incredible cultural season, and offers new insights to the Italian public on literature, music, films, artistic and theatrical works born during this period of revolt.
Professor Cornet has written chapter II of the book which is dedicated to the Visual arts and is entitled ‘Visual disorientation’. It explains how, in the visual arts, Middle Eastern artists could be considered as ‘birds in a coal mine’ since they anticipated aesthetically by a decade the revolutions and the political calls for freedom. The works and narrative reviewed in this chapter shows how two crucial phenomena have transformed the visual art field: the revolution in creation and dissemination brought about by social networks around 2005 and the new patrons from the Gulf that massively entered the field of arts during this period and consequently raised immensely the commercial value of Middle Eastern art.
The chapter also scrutinizes the new themes tackled by the Middle Eastern arts, and mainly, the use of Remix, the ‘pop’ exploitation of a nostalgia for the fifties and its idols with a specific analysis of the visual treatment of the legendary Egyptian Umm Kulthum, as well as the rediscovery of calligraphy which becomes an important feature for digital artists.
All in all, this fascinating decade in the Middle East has contributed to ‘dis-orient’ visually their new audiences and inform us better on these fascinating revolutionary moments.