Yemeni graffiti art has a name, Murad Subay. And 102 faces

Interviste

Maybe you didn’t remember it, but next to Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, Yemen has also taken part, between 2010 and 2011, to the popular uprisings in the Arab world of contemporary protests erupted in several states of the Maghreb and the Near East. Here, in fact, political instability has led, since the Nineties, two simultaneous conflicts: on one side the cells of al-Qaeda stationed in the provinces of Shabwa, Marif and Jawf fight against a Governement supported by the United States; on the other side other Shiite militias zaidite Houti, tribal separatist financed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, fight against the central government in San’a’, represented by the figure of President ‘Ali’Abdullah Saleh, in power for 33 years. It is the latter, the Zaydi northern Yemen moine, at the end of 2010, to the ongoing protests across the country against the regime of President, asking for his deposition and deep political reforms dictated by a rampant poverty. From this moment begins an escalation of war, marked by deaths and injuries, that, by early 2011, still continues, despite the elections of February 2012. On 21 February 2012, in fact, the Yemeni people voted in the first presidential elections after the end of  ‘Ali’ Abdullah Saleh’s dictatorship: the inning (because only) candidate was Abd Rabbuh Mansour al-Hadi, Yemen Vice President in the previous 17 years. Hadi would have to be the man of the transition of the country, as provided by the agreement signed between Saleh and the Gulf Cooperation Council in November 2011. In the leading role of the country until the next legislative and presidential elections (which should have been hold this year) he should have consulted the various political movements to elect a constituent assembly that would write a new constitution. But the killing on 22 November 2012 of Abdul Karim Jebdan, parliamentary and conference delegate of National Dialogue, was a clear sign of the failure to peace achievement in Yemen.

And the yearning for peace has pushed the young Subay Murad, born in 1987, who first carried in Yemen the practice of graffiti art, thus winning the title of Yemeni Banksy. Three of his artistic campaigns that gave voice to the walls of the capital San’a’, allo f them in the name of the quest for peace in his country. Colour  The Walls Of Your Street is tabout March 2012: on that occasion Murad encouraged the Yemeni citizens, especially the youngest, to color the walls damaged by the civil war broke out in Yemen in 2011. Walls Remeber Their Faces is about 2012: on the walls of the streets of the capital Subay and his group of artists drew portraits of 102 people missing in previous years, nearly all for political reasons; the initiative, said Subay, led to the identification of one of Yemenis desparecidos. This year, finally, it was the turn of his third campaign entitled 12 Hours: there is shown the twelve main political challenges that face Yemen on the horizon.

It is not a coincidence, thou, if on November 14, during the sixth edition of the World Conference of Science for Peace, created by Fondazione Veronesi, Muard won Art for Peace Award: this choice, in fact, was motivated by organizers “for the strong commitment that his art reveals for the rights of the civilian population against terrorist attacks”. After that date Murad, certainly not the unreachable “street-artist-star” that would be expected in the West, has kindly answered a series of questions that I made about his life, his career, his future.

Who are you? What do you do in your life?

My name is Murad Mohsen Subay, ex-athlete for seven years..Black belt in judo, and third in the junior championship at the level of the republic, and the second in the military championship.Blue belt in Tae Kwon Do. I started to paint since 2001. In 2012 i started the graffiti campaigns.

When did you start approaching graffiti art? Why?

As I mentioned I started on 2012 after the conflicts that happened in the capital between the militias.

Why did you prefer graffiti art rather than literature to narrate revolution in Yemen?

Yeah it is a good question, well i do not have the ability to be a narrate and the i had not a choice then to select another specialty like Fine art academy, On spite of that we have a small arts colleges in the cities of Aden and Hodeidah, but it does not meet My aspirations.

Why Yemeni citiziens decided to follow your Colour The Walls Of Your Street?

Well, it was a period of war and the hope of Revolution have lose because anti-revolution won at then and now. The spirit of ours damaged and this what did lead me to launch the street’s art campaigns and this is the reason why they do participate. Walls now are voice of us.

What do Government and old people say about your work?

it is a question needs a long answer.I Launched a second campaign entitled Walls Remember Their Faces, to draw the faces of forcibly disappeared .. here this did not admire the powerful who did not like to open the file as an issue of the disappeared, this came Mural Faces forcibly disappeared to blur by them, this led the community and the families of Enforced disappearance to participate in the campaign against effacement operations. During our work in the campaign has been discussing the issue of forcibly disappeared in the Congress of Yemen, forming a committee to investigate in this case, The Amnesty invited the government of Yemen to sign the protection of citizens from the crime of enforced disappearances convention, and this led to the signing of this agreement by the government.

What’s your favourite masterpiece?

hank you that you think it is a masterpiece.. but it is hard to choose.

What’s your favourite technique?

About this I prefer to hold a brush.

Which are your graffiti teachers? Why?

I hadn’t a teacher, I learned at home and this is not enough, therefore I am looking for a scholarship abroad in Fine Art.

How was prize giving ceremony going?

One word “wonderful”.

In future, will you continue to make graffiti? If yes, where?

Sure, there is idea I am working on it but i will leave it till the right moment.

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