Arab Arts in “Instagram Gallery”
By: Jenny Lyu / Arab America Contributing Writer
Have you ever visited Instagram to explore creativity, culture, and art? Communicating, absorbing information, and conducting business online make the online environment vivid and diverse. The young Arab generation has started to develop their interests, express their thoughts, and show perspectives on politics and identity awareness on social media. It is difficult to disconnect from social media nowadays for youth. With Facebook and Twitter having the most significant declines, Instagram grew in popularity over the past two years. It is a digital museum collecting unique pieces of work, giving artists an inspiring platform to show their results.
The decentralized Arab world, geographically spanning from southwest Asia to northern Africa is not always easy for people from all over the world to focus on. Moreover, displaced conditions because of war, colonialism, environmental devastation, political conflict, etc., make Arab art and heritage slighted and invisible. However, through social media, many artists are mobilizing their works in a way that extends corporeal things into distant spaces.
Hang Art on Instagram Wall
The Instagram wall is magic for art. The painting out of canvas shows excellent plasticity. Tony Maalouf’s illustration artwork is narrated by video. When he zooms in on the screen with his fingers, new images emerge from small details. Space and time pass by at your fingertips.
The story is staged one after another. Helplessness, sadness, and longing make each viewer think of himself and see their memories. Social media platforms bring together art, textual narrative, presentation diversity, and audience communication.
In addition, he also created a series of artworks on the topic of wearing masks and social distance in the context of Covid-19, showing the relationship between people. When I look at his paintings, I see all the inconveniences brought by the pandemic, as well as the empty streets, cafes, and neighborhoods. Still, simultaneously, the connection between people became closer while being separated. Measuring the distance with a ruler, the thermometer heats up because of love, hand gel first in restaurants, etc.; it seemed like the pandemic itself became less scary when we laughed off all the unpleasantness in a mocking way. Of course, life has to go on, but it’s a rare treat to have such amusing paintings to soothe.
Art is Created by Expression, the Output is Its Meaning
If you haven’t walked the streets of Jeddah, it might be hard to spot the graffiti and installation art that street artists hide around. Artist Sara AI Abdali is a street artist who likes to deconstruct and reconstruct, expressing herself in a simple way. I love her depiction of women in her painting. One is a palm tree with a naked curled up in a red frame. Here are the words she says about the painting:
She does not know her beauty
She thinks her brown body has no glory
If she could dance naked under palm trees
And see her image in the river she would know
But there are no palm trees in the street
And dishwater gives back no images
She doesn’t do her work for Instagram, but for art, for herself, and culture. Social media is just a tool she uses to communicate with those who love her. She encapsulates her understanding and view of self and women in her depictions of women and uses her work to speak out for women. There are white and neat buildings on the unripped wallpaper, while behind the ripped wallpaper, of a dressing in Hejazi, is a ruin. Her love, appreciation, and frustration with culture are included in each piece of work, and more people have seen it because of Instagram.
Talk About Art on Instagram
We can learn the general story of artwork in the museum, and see the artist’s life from the documentary. But only some artists’ work has the opportunity to be magnified to tell that story. Your preference may be a niche artist that, in some way, stings you and responds to you. Your comments can be seen, so we shape art on Instagram, and art also brings us visual impact and shapes our cognition. McCann Beograd launched an outdoor campaign ad, “Support The Doctors,” during the pandemic, which was not only posted on the streets of Europe but also brought more attention and discussion on social media. A picture is worth a thousand words. The strangulation marks on the doctors’ masks became the logo of a superhero. Such a visual impact is straight to the heart.
There are countless descriptions of social media, and different people treat it differently. I prefer to think of Instagram as a creative gallery I walk into daily, bringing inspiration to my life. How about you? Please share with us the artists you found and inspire you on Instagram!
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