Saturday June 10th, 2023
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New Walls: Reclaiming Egypt's Walls and Painting The Town Red

New Walls is an innovative independent project determined to bring back the love for graffiti art and freedom of self-expression, starting with Tunis, Al Fayoum, curating fifteen diverse artists to transform its walls...

Staff Writer

It’s incredible to imagine where a developing country such as Egypt would be if it weren’t for the excessive censorship on literary and artistic expression, particularly when both forms of communication intertwine to direct the common people towards authentic grassroots causes and radical insights. Graffiti art is a format free from limitation due to its rebellious and unpredictable nature. It occupies public space to deliver a message that cannot be fully expressed via any other medium. Most importantly, it occupies free walls, free of charge, and in whichever spaces it deems relevant. The 2011 revolts unleashed an entire new species of groundbreaking graffiti artists during a time when the city was plagued by oppression, police brutality, and cultural deterioration.

Walls surrounding Tahrir Square were fuelled by artwork of protest and opposition and, in no time, the entire city of Cairo was booming with graffiti art encouraging women power and feminism, anarchism, and social justice. Impulsive, direct spray paint illustrations transcended into empowering and comprehensive graffiti art, yet within a couple of years it was all gone, as though nothing had happened. A campaign against the innovative venture wiped the city clean, over and over again, until the practice simply became overshadowed by government-funded, family-friendly graffiti artwork and designs. Enter New Walls, an independent public arts project that aims to bring together 15 of the most revolutionary Egyptian and international graffiti artists to reclaim free space, targeting the walls of the village of Tunis in Al Fayoum, Egypt.

The vibrant community of Tunis is famous for its craftsmanship in pottery, natural sights and simplistic yet beautiful homes, which the New Walls project finds most suitable to work on, hoping to explore artistic themes beyond the political and “transform the Egyptian village into an open-air street museum,” as dubbed by the team to challenge the state of society today where artists are faced with politically polarized streets.

New Walls, curated by graffiti artist El Teneen, will head to Al Fayoum to launch their initiative from Sunday, November 22nd until Saturday November 28th, one week before the annual Tunis pottery festival to decorate the village and get familiar with its locals, who anticipate a significantly higher rate of visitors this year.

Grafitti artists collaborating with New Walls include the politically-charged mentalist Ammar Abo Bakr from Egypt, anti-commercial sensationalist Gonzola Borondo from Spain, as well as Banksy-inspired artist Sunra from Tunis/France. The 15 artists will be exploring new methods and sharing concepts, techniques, and applications across the walls of Tunis, Al Fayoum, and will keep folks updated through social media as they take on wall after wall, in the hopes of inspiring similar projects across the country.

New Walls from El Teneen on Vimeo.

For more information about the project, check out their Facebook page here or help crowdfund it here.

Main Image and Tunis Village Photo Credits: New Walls