Creativity under the Crescent: Contemporary Art in the Middle East

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.