Occupy – To fill or take up in space or time. Arab – Of and from the Arab world whose heritage and or inspiration originates from the region of the Middle East and North Africa where Arabic is the spoken language. Art – The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination.
We occupy online space to bring you contemporary Arab artwork from around the world. A platform for the native, the disapora, the connected and the culturally inspired. We feel like a collective, we behave like a movement. We are defined by the work we discover and share so we’re always growing, always changing. You will, at all times, find us here, but sometimes you’ll find us occupying physical space, other times we’ll occupy your space, we’ll make space and we’ll find space to fill with the work that inspires us.
The Arab world was once at the forefront of civilisation, of art, architecture, geometry, poetry and calligraphy. Then something happened, the creativity once so associated with the Arab world seemed to disappear. Europe flourished and the image of the Arab world became one of the Orient, one that was created rather than projected from within. The created image became firmly implanted in our minds. Did creativity stop? We’ll never know, for where there is life there is art. What we do know is right now something is changing, shifting.
From Saudi Arabian conceptual installation to Egyptian street art, Moroccan pop art to Beirut design, the Arab world is awash with expressions of creativity, music, art and exhibition. The need to react to negative perceptions of the Arab world has never been stronger. Orientalism didn’t die, it just got more advanced, a little savvier and so work that depicts and projects truth has the highest value in our eyes. There are those creating social commentary, others, the expression of identity. For all the desire to express is no different from that of any other artist at any other place in time or geography. To express universal experiences, truths and ideals, the very essence of the human experience, of love, death and life.
Against a backdrop of post colonialism, of political upheaval of worlds colliding, Arab artists and artists inspired by Arab culture are defining themselves through their creativity. A writing of their own narrative, a reorientation and a reclamation of identity through an occupation of the territory of the mind. The results are explosive, bold, intimate, fun and yet somehow always unique.
#OCCUPYARABART is the channel and the stage. Join us.