Walls that Speak: Street Art in Lebanon

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In the politically charged regions of Lebanon come new messages from local street artists. All over the country, spray painted propaganda symbols of religions and political parties are found on the walls. They signal to others that one district is Shia, while the other Christian. They show if a building supports Hezbollah or the Communist party. After a while, it just becomes commonplace to the people – but to some local graphic designers and street artists, the walls needed a little “touch up.”

In the documentary titled “Walls that Speak” by Al Jazeera World, life is shown through graffiti crews, artists and designers who bring images to the walls and make people think differently for a change. Slogans like “courage is contagious” or “what am I doing to help Lebanon” are some of the many messages that are proliferating. Stenciled images of corrupt police, monkeys and political leaders appear, in hopes of creating a better future for Lebanon. In the short documentary, artist Ali Al-Rafei says “My duty as a street artist is to tell the truth and shed light on subjects no one talks about.”

Crews like Ashekman, MTN and Katibe 5 are highlighted and their work speaks the social messages that citizens fear to voice in public. Their hopes are that if enough people see the art, conversations can happen and a majority voice can be formed. It is also their hope to bring beauty to the walls and bring happiness to cities like Beirut – places that have not had much to be happy about in the past. Check out the documentary below.

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via Al-Jazeera

Shawn Saleme

Shawn Saleme is a contributing writer for Visual News. A 4th generation San Franciscan, Shawn has developed an adventurous spirit that has taken him to over 55 countries. His degree in cultural anthropology shapes his perspective and thirst to socially experiment in a rapidly shifting planet. His work has been featured in the Seattle Times, The Globalist and the Daily Mail. Currently he is writing a book about the shared economy. Connect with him @shawnsaleme.

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