Art, Revolution, and Islam: Checking In with Tunisian Artists Two Years After the Arab Spring

In Tunisia — the birthplace of the Arab Spring — the lives of artists are radically changed, and yet, in some ways, no better at all. Lively street art dots the landscape of the capital, but censorship still abounds, and the growing power of Islamic extremists is a constant threat to open artistic expression. ARTINFO covered the Salafist Islamist attacks on the Printemps des Arts fair outside of Tunis last summer, and this week, art blog Hyperallergic posted an update to the situation in North Africa.

Joscelyn Jurich interviewed Tunisian artist Sami Oueslati, who told her that while Tunisian artists still face censorship and threats from extremists, there are a number of heartening signs that artistic expression is flourishing within the country. Street art is cropping up everywhere — both political and apolitical — and calligraphy, once reserved for elite classes, is becoming an important part of it. Oueslati comes across as reserved, but optimistic about the future. “There is something new on the horizon and it exists thanks to the artists who always resist and who will keep the flame of the revolution alive,” he said.

Read the full interview, and see Jurich’s photos of street art in Tunis here.

Shane Ferro

(Image: Detail of Tunisian street art via Hyperallergic)