The Arab Spring: What Lies Beneath the Beauty

The Arab Spring was fueled by much more than just talk on social media.

Above image: Street art from Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring in Egypt, taken by Denis Bocquet.

The Arab Spring was fueled by much more than just talk on social media. There was word of mouth, and there was also imagery. Visuals of the revolution were spread digitally and physically. During the Arab Spring, many artists turned to expressing their political views through their artwork, often through posters. The creator of the Palestine Poster Archives, Daniel Walsh, has spent years collecting posters that focus around Palestine or were created by Palestinians. He spent a large portion of his life living in the Arab world as a member of the Peace Corps as well as later on to continue with his archive project. Within his archives are many posters about the Arab Spring uprisings happening in Egypt and Tunisia. The posters within Daniel Walsh’s archives represent the same ideals that are seen with the protesters in Arab Spring throughout the 2010s.

Many of the posters Walsh has added to his archives were created by Palestinians, but the art itself addressed the issues and events around the Arab Spring. The artist that involved himself the most was Waleed Idrees. Many of his 63 poster designs that are displayed on the archives website directly show the hopes and ideals of the protesters. His piece “I Am Very Egyptian” showed a proud protester throwing up the Egyptian flag, with his lower torso obscured by a block-out of Egypt. It solidifies the idea using a man, two symbols, and four words that the protesters were united because they were the Egyptian people who believed they deserved more than what they received. Besides this single poster, he has many referencing the events of all other countries. He has a poster of Tunisia’s martyr, Mohamed Bouazizi overlaid on the Tunisian flag. There are children of Libya expressing hope for their futures, saying “I cherish my dream even if it was naïve.” The posters are all beautiful depictions of each country’s struggle against their regimes, hoping for a brighter future for their people and uniting through few strong ideals.

However, the Palestine Poster Archives are about more than portraying the struggles and hopes of the Arab Spring. Even the posters that are made by Palestinians about Palestinian political and social problems address the same basic concepts. He spent years of his life curating this space for the Palestine issues specifically, but it sends messages about universal issues. He has a Daniel Walsh curates his space the same way Wael Ghonim curated his Facebook page in support for the revolution. Ghonim speaks of the triggers of the revolution in his book Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People is Greater than the People in Power as well as in his many TED Talks. On a similar note, Leah Caldwell talks about the archives in relation to Palestinian activism and the impact the posters make aside from the beautiful designs in “The Palestine Poster Project: A Virtual Memory of Struggle and the Everyday.” She shows them as an overall tool to resistance against the large issues in the country, which are similar issues to what the Arab Spring states were experiencing. Waleed Idrees’ art itself portrays his own voice alongside the protesters of the Arab Spring. Every little voice adds up, creating a unified force against the corruption.

Caldwell, Leah. “The Palestine Poster Project: A Virtual Memory of Struggle and the Everyday.” Al Akhbar English. Al Azkhbar English, 5 Dec. 2011. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.
Gelvin, James L.. The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know? Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.
Ghonim, Wael. Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People Is Greater Than the People in Power: A Memoir. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
Ghonim, Wael. “Transcript of “Inside the Egyptian Revolution”” Wael Ghonim: Inside the Egyptian Revolution. TED, Mar. 2011. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.
Idrees, Waleed. I Am Very Egyptian. 2011. Digital Work. Palestine Poster Project Archives.
Idrees, Waleed. Bouazizi of Tunisia. 2011. Digital Work. Palestine Poster Project Archives.
Idrees, Waleed. I Cherish My Dream Even If It Was Naive. 2012. Digital Work. Palestine Poster Project Archives.
Walsh, Daniel. “The Palestine Poster Project Archives.” The Palestine Poster Project Archives. Liberation Graphics, 2009. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.

Student Author: Mallorie Madore, Champlain College. A third year Graphic Designer with a love of print production.
Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams, PhD., Champlain College Faculty Advisor

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Third year Graphic Design student at Champlain College
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