Art is a dangerous medium. Artists are often dissenters, and the powerful have persecuted them throughout history. Many Americans associate the Middle East especially with repressive regimes and a lack of artistic freedom. Yet, a contemporary art scene has existed there for many years before the recent uprisings. It’s true that in the past, negotiating the fine line between self-expression and dissent was a necessary part of being an artist in many MENA countries. Now, the 2011 revolutions have emboldened the contemporary art scene. Here is just a tiny sampling of the many artists producing fascinating works across MENA. Their histories, themes, and perspectives give us a glimpse of some of the many facets of the Middle East.
These articles represent the views of the authors only, and do not constitute the positions of UCLA, the International Institute, or the Center for Middle East Development. Readers are invited to offer alternative perspectives to hinkis[at]international.ucla.edu.