A new art installation by Owen Murray was introduced to Gallery@501 this week.
On Tuesday, July 2, the gallery was pleased to present Luxor Urban Art, a documentary photography exhibit of murals painted in protest during the political and cultural uprising in Egypt as part of the Arab Spring.
"In Egypt, history is (literally) written on the walls. Through observation over time, one can gain greater insight into both past and present, and it is with that hope that these images are presented," said Owen Murphy in his artist's statement. "By studying wall scenes and their inscriptions (and re-inscription, known as palimpsest) Egyptologists can derive the sequence and significance of various periods gaining great insight in Pharaonic Egypt. Things like, what was important? Who inscribed what scene? Who defaced and reinscribed that scene? Why?"
The Arab Spring was a series of pro-democracy uprisings that enveloped several largely Muslim countries in the Middle East, including Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, and Egypt. The events in these nations generally began in the spring of 2011, which led to the name. The Egyptian revolution began on Jan. 25, 2011 and spread quickly across Egypt. Civil unrest had grown due to concerns of administrative corruption, police brutality, lack of political freedoms and civil liberties, unemployment rates and low wages. The protests consisted of demonstrations, marches, peaceful occupations, and strikes. Violent clashes between military forces during the protests left hundreds dead and thousands injured. The revolution ended on Feb. 11, 2011 with the overthrowing of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
During the Arab Spring, graffiti artists used their artwork as a weapon against the new military rulers, referencing traditional ancient Egyptian symbols, motifs and artifacts. Anti-censorship graffiti encouraged citizens to express themselves on the walls of Egyptian cities and to mobilize against state oppression.
The images found in the exhibit can be directly related to ancient Egyptian art, advocating for cultural identity and national pride, free from military rule and oppression. Many of the images, often invoking pyramids, pharaohs, mummies, Egyptian goddesses, and other mythological figures or ancient symbols, reflect current events and reflect the spirit of the revolution, carrying political messages as well as commemorative value.
For the past eleven years, Murphy has worked as a cultural heritage photographer in Egypt, documenting and recording Egyptian cultural patrimony alongside colleagues at the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities as well as academic institutions such as the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute and the University of Quebec in Montreal.
Visitors can view the Luxor Urban Art exhibit for free at Gallery@501 until August 25. The gallery is opened from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays, and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. It is closed on statutory holidays.
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