Statement from the Curators of Perpetuum Mobilε / Re-Aligned.net
It’s a harsh moment, when artists are declared “terrorists”. Our friend the Egyptian artist Ganzeer is under serious threat.
In a bizarre turn, Ganzeer has been accused of working for the Muslim Brotherhood, which is now banned as a terrorist organisation under the Sisi regime. An ironic twist since, under President Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government, Ganzeer was attacked as an “enemy of Islam” for supposedly blasphemous work.
Ganzeer’s designation as a terrorist is the brutal reaction to the #SisiWarCrimes campaign, which is growing by the day. Co-initiated by Finland’s own political street artist #Sampsa, this campaign unites street artists across continents.
The campaign addresses the massacres – estimate at 638 dead and 3994 injured – which accompanied General Sisi’s overthrow of the Morsi government in August 2013. It also raises awareness about a government, tolerated if not supported by all major powers, and its increasingly totalitarian control of all walks of life, including art.
According to the Guardian, “[s]ince Sisi deposed Morsi last July following days of mass demonstrations, at least 16,000 Egyptian dissidents have been arrested, and thousands killed during protests. The crackdown initially focused on Morsi’s Islamist supporters before expanding to secular-leaning activists.” (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/08/graffiti-artists-unite-against-abdel-fatah-al-sisi-egypt) This includes banning those, such as the “6 April Youth Movement”, who were a key group in the demand for freedom and justic in the revolution of 2011, that have stood against both evils of religious fundamentalism and the military state.
Despite his bloody record, General Sisi’s regime has until now been seen as the ‘least worst’ option by western governments. Through his fierce grip on the state and media, he seems certain to become Egypt’s new president.
However, heavy criticism by artists, activists and now also statesmen is gaining ground (e.g. by former President Jimmy Carter http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/17/jimmy-carter-egypt-election-sisi-president-precipice#top)
Ganzeer in Finland
Ganzeer was a key figure in the March 2014 show, BACK TO (THE) SQUARE 1, curated by Marita Muukkonen and Ivor Stodolsky of Perpetuum Mobilε, and commissioned by Checkpoint Helsinki (documentation: https://www.re-aligned.net/documentation-back-square-1-installation-views/?lang=en). We hope to also have his participation in the upcoming TO THE SQUARE 2 (www.checkpointhelsinki.org/en/programme/to-the-square-2/).
Ganzeer (https://www.re-aligned.net/ganzeer/?lang=en) was already part of RE-PUBLIC, Perpetuum Mobilε’s project on the Baana in Helsinki in August 2013 (https://www.re-aligned.net/re-public-russian-art-in-the-streets/?lang=en). At the time, he was in residency at HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme, through the “On the Move” programme (www.hiap/project/move). This was how he made contact with artists including Sampsa and the hip-hop star Paleface – for whom he prepared a forthcoming album cover.
We hope to see Ganzeer safe and sound, and support and encourage all efforts to raise the #SisiWarCrimes campaign to a new level.
Ivor Stodolsky and Marita Muukkonen