42 Years in the making…
After 42 years of creative repression in Libya there has been a huge rise in graffiti and street art murals across the country that frame the recent changes that have swept the country as Muammar Gaddafi was forced from power. A lot of the imagery that now adorns the streets and walls of the country is strangely familiar, as we start to see western imagery juxtaposed against traditional Arabic symbols and icons.
Many of the messages are written in English as well as Arabic. Red, green and black – the colours of the new Libyan flag are common place and so are global icons from the heart of Western popular culture. The range of works appearing on the streets is truly inspiring.
The cross-cultural styles that make up these pieces and murals may provide a window to glimpse the new future of Libya. The removal and death of Gaddafi is only the beginning of a new Libya. The shift from a dictatorship to democracy that will set out the governance of the country will no doubt borrow heavily from western democratic models – like the street art we see here, it too will be a juxtaposition of traditional Arabic elements and western ideas.
With NATO running 10,000 + bombing sorties within Libya to destroy Gaddafi’s infrastructure and control, this is an investment that will need to be repaid by the new Libya. We have seen too often how western intervention and regeneration can strip sovereign countries of their own cultural identity and resources (as we have seen in South Africa and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan). The only hope is that one oppressor – Gaddafi, will not be replaced by another – Capitalism, and that after 42 years all Libyans will finally get a true say in the governance and future of their lands.