CFP — Vol. 3 (2021) edited by Marie Bonte & Marion Slitine : "Reclaiming Art in Urban Public Space in the MENA Region. Artistic Practices, Political Expression and Public Space Transformations"
[Circulations and artistic paths between North Africa and France (19th-20th c.)]
Since the nineteenth century, North Africa, from Egypt to Morocco, has undergone deep upheavals, linked to the imperial and colonial expansion of the European powers and the re-ordering policy (tanzimāt) of the Ottoman Empire, and later to the process of decolonization and the affirmation of nation-states. These economic, social, political and cultural changes were accompanied by references to European models. It is more precisely to references to works or more generally to French culture in local productions that we intend to devote this issue, by attempting to understand their modalities. Contact with France has taken different forms. In Egypt, after the French occupation between 1798 and 1801 and the important presence of French advisors in Muhammad Ali’s policy of state reform, French culture may have represented a form of protest to British presence after 1881. In Algeria, France took military control of the country and encouraged a settlement policy accompanied by an assimilationist discourse. The French protectorates in Tunisia and Morocco may have fostered the development of an ambivalent image of France as a tutor favoring a specific development process or as an abusive power stifling it. Competing foreign models, Italian in Tunisia or Spanish in Morocco, have also to be taken into consideration.
In the field of the arts, explicit references to France or implicit cultural transfers have taken varied forms. We will focus here on receptivity to French references as well as on reactions or refusal to models presented as foreign or imposed by force. We will study the modes of appropriation, questioning and understanding in different genres of artistic production, as visual arts or music.
The third issue of Manazir Journal focuses on “making art” in urban public space in North Africa and the Middle East. Whether visual or performative, these urban arts (tags, graffiti, street art, murals, performances, live shows, sculptures and installations) contribute to renewing forms of expression of politics in public space and, more broadly, to transforming urban space. Indeed, the graffiti and street art scene has accelerated over the past decade in line with the so-called “Arab Spring”: every year, graffiti on walls multiply, new urban art centers appear, and festivals entirely dedicated to street art are organized. All these initiatives are gradually turning the city into an “open-air gallery” and are transforming the relationship between city dwellers and urban public space. While many scholarly works have begun to take an interest in artistic practices in the MENA region, few of them have explored their urban dimensions. By asking what art does to the city, the contributions in this issue question the renewal of the links between art, modes of appropriation of urban space, and forms of political expression.
The articles focus on the multiple transformations of urban materialities. Who are these urban artists and what are their impact on society and the city? How do they mobilize and participate in public debates? How can they contribute to the emergence of new spheres of discussion and/or confrontation of opinions?
This issue also addresses the question of the institutionalization of urban art, its commodification (its anchoring in the art market) and its heritagization (its place in the museum institution); in other words, the questions of the “artification” of urban art and the way it can be exhibited beyond the street walls.
Moreover, the authors are invited to question the links between forms of artistic expression and the places in which they take place: how likely is urban art to (re)invent the city and contribute to a reappropriation of open spaces? How does/can it redefine urban centralities? Furthermore, what are the definitions, limits, and functions of public space that emerge from these artistic practices? Which dynamics does the transfer from urban to digital space imply for cultural practices? For if urban art is a practice that was not originally intended to circulate, the forms that these circulations take on are multiplied with the rise of new technologies (NICT).
Thus, the overall aim of this special issue is to study the ways in which the circulation of images is inscribed in urban and digital materialities; e.g. via the follow-up of the “career” of an image, from its conception to its digital recovery or its manifestation in public space (in political and social mobilizations in particular). It questions the performative dimension of these artistic practices: how can urban art, by creating new urban territorialities or alternative visual narratives of the city, constitute renewed modes of subjectivation for regaining a possible “living together”, beyond political, confessional, and identity fractures? From an interdisciplinary perspective, this issue — bringing together art historians, anthropologists, geographers, sociologists, political scientists, and also artists, filmmakers or cultural officers — is part of a wider reflection on the socio-cultural and political issues of “making art” in public space, and on the urban conditions in the Middle East and North Africa.
Vol. 4: Art - Creativity - Spontaneity: Ramsis Wissa Wassef, edited by Leïla El Wakil.