Abu Dhabi doesn’t have a lot of public art, unless you count big billboards of Sheikh Zayed (the founder of the UAE). And while I don’t know if there is a causal relationship here, there’s not much graffiti, either. All those places in cities where your eye might see a scrawled tag, a political comment, a DeLaVega aphorism…
…there’s none of that here, in English or Arabic. At the National Day celebration last year, there was a designated spot to write “graffiti” on a free-standing blank wall:
but the wall was surrounded by a safety rope: sanctioned graffiti, emblazoning only positive comments and drawings.
So you can imagine my surprise when I saw this wall:
Goin 2 introduce men of Liwa…
I don’t know who the men of Liwa are but seeing their scribbled felt oddly familiar, as if a tiny sliver of Manhattan had suddenly appeared on a wall in Abu Dhabi. Graffiti as a marker of home.
“Sanctioned graffiti” — that’s kind of funny. Looks like you have rebels in your midst!
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Wandered over from yeah write: Amazing what sorts of details make us homesick and what reminds us of home!
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At both Art for All and at Abu Dhabi Art there were demonstrations of graffiti which is of the type apparently more common in dictatorships; the ones I saw were water graffiti and sand graffiti.
My understanding is that regional graffiti is least risky (therefore one can be more openly expressive) if it is fleeting and temporary (and of course anonymous).
There was also ‘graffiti ball’, which was completely apolitical.
It was very interesting and lovely, and popular with huge crowds.
Many other pieces of art were also very risky, from a political/cultural standpoint.
Glad to see you are still here.
Maybe we can get together once you have passed your self-imposed cheese lent.