Taking back the streets of Beirut

This a very relevant and hopeful piece about a tagger in Beirut who is doing a whole lot more than spraying paint on walls – he is giving back a cultural focus to his community by replacing political posters with portraits of real local people combined with three different types of Arabic calligraphy to create a beautiful melange of what it means to be human in Beirut.

This is what good art is supposed to do! He even has a pass from the local government, who will leave his existing pieces alone, and allow him to create more without fear of reprisal. Read the story below, for something exciting and hopeful.

Iain Akerman

Yazan1Photograph: Yazan Halwani’s ‘Fairuz’ in Gemmayze

“There is an alternative voice rising,” says Yazan Halwani, the young Lebanese street artist. “I’m not going to say that what I do is going to free Lebanon or change the sectarian political system, or fix any regional problem, it’s far from that. But it tells people that you don’t have to accept what’s already there.”

Halwani has just finished university for the day when we catch up, his English carrying more than the hint of a French accent. On occasion he talks 19 to the dozen, such is his passion for graffiti, calligraphy and the reclamation of Beirut’s streets from the clutches of the city’s myriad political parties. For an alternative voice, he is both endearing and charismatic.

Following a brief misunderstanding in February this year, the possibility that much of his work – and that of other graffiti artists – would be removed…

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