What is art during revolutions? A movement, a tool of expression, a protest tool, a peaceful weapon with high impact, a declaration, a sense of freedom or liberty, a documentation, a language, a form of therapy?
How about all of the above.
The recent uprisings in Lebanon have brought people and communities together under the nation’s flag, all whilst uncovering pages of creative talent, that form part of the country's fabric.
As artists and creative people challenge the status quo and respond to the social inequalities and political system, the art has impacted the revolution, people of Lebanon, the diaspora and all who have been following the current state, in more ways than one. Art has showcased its power through strength of imagery, ability to mobilise and move people and taken up a role as cultural resistance during the protests. Furthermore Images of murals, banners, sketches, paintings, slogans and animations have been re-posted endless times, as the revolution’s brushstrokes spreads its paint, colour and message onto all its viewers and followers. Art of Thawra literally translated as Art of the Revolution is an Instagram page founded by Paola Mounla, who set out to gather all the art created on, or for the Lebanese Revolution on the one Instagram page in order to demonstrate Creativity in Freedom of Expression. Through her curation, hard work and determination to showcase the talent of her country, in a short space of time, Art of Thawra has gained momentum and a large following. Under each image a hashtag of #keepitpeaceful ,a sentiment also reflected on the streets and by the protesters. The 2019 Revolution has set out and has largely been a peaceful protest for human rights and dignity, yet one with grit and determination, exhibiting the pen and paintbrush as mightier than the sword.
Through the aid of technology, creatives have been able to have an outlet, a space to share their thoughts, ideas and creativity. As the days go by, the art keeps flowing as the resilience of the Lebanese and of the creative talent, having shown its ability to effect change, is showcasing its ability to stand its ground. Across the wires, through the audios of chants and the stacks of images I caught with Paola to ask her, why she started Art of Thawra and her thoughts on how art has impacted the Revolution:
In my 13 years of experience in the communication and advertising industry, I’ve been exposed to a lot of young talent. Their work is creative and beautiful yet underexposed. When the revolution started, I was so happy to see them use their talent to express themselves through creativity, that I started to gather the pieces and share them on my personal account for the first 4 days. The content started growing, it was creative and powerful, one artist was inspiring the other and a domino effect was created. From there, it only felt natural to give them a platform where they could shine and express themselves freely and connect with each other, in a time where they really wanted to express themselves, the Revolution. Art of Thawra was born on October 21st, 2019.
The most dynamic thing about the Art of Thawra page is that the content is relevant, real time and creative. An event would happen, 30 minutes later, you have a piece of art created. The artists gave people the creative tools to express themselves. And since the art is user generated, and the artists are able to create without boundaries, the collection of art covers a wide spectrum of creative twists, themes and ideas and an even wider spectrum of artistic mediums from digital instagram filters, to gifs and animations, graffitis, to oil on canvas. You can say there’s a piece of art of Thawra that appeals to each person out there.
As important as the page is today, it’s even more important for tomorrow. We’re documenting artistic history. In this magnitude and amount of content, it must be a first for the country. These pieces will forever exist, be used in schools and in books and go down in history as part of the Lebanon 2019 revolution. They capture key moments and events, forever immortalized in artwork. They tell a story by the people. And that is important because this is how a country learns from its past. This is how the world learns from the past of a country. This is how we evolve and create a better future. Look at all the museums in Berlin…
Paola Mounla is the Creative Director and Founder of Art of Thawra
Follow @art_of_thawra to get the latest art coming out of Lebanon
Below is some of the art seen on Art of Thawra, each artist's Instagram handle is on the image.