Engaged Ephemeral Art: Street Art and the Egyptian Arab Spring

  • Saphinaz Amal Naguib (Author)
    University of Oslo Faculty of Humanities Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages
    Saphinaz-Amal Naguib is professor of Cultural History at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo


The wave of uprisings known as the Arab Spring that swept over the Middle East and North Africa from December 2010 to early 2013 left its imprint on political and social life in the countries concerned. This ephemeral moment also marked a change in various forms of artistic expression. Street art, graffiti, and calligraffiti are among the most striking art forms of this short period. Artists recorded and commented on events and developments in the political situation. They drew upon their people’s cultural memory to impart their messages and expressed dissension, civil disobedience, and resistance by combining images and scripts. This article is about the materiality of visual art and the translation of political contestation into street art, graffiti, and calligraffiti in Egypt. It probes the ways slogans were visualised, drawn, and inscribed on the walls of the urban space in Cairo and then disseminated on the internet and social media. Translation relates here to transcultural contacts and the interplay between texts, images, and contexts from the vantage point of intermediality. 


Academic discipline and sub-disciplines
Cultural Studies, Cultural History
Contributor or sponsoring agency
Department of Culture Studies, University of Oslo, Centre for Advanced Studies, Oslo.
Type, method or approach
street art, graffiti, calligraffiti, translation, political protest, slogan, Egypt, Arab Spring, Tahrir Square
How to Cite
Naguib, S. A. (2017). Engaged Ephemeral Art: Street Art and the Egyptian Arab Spring. The Journal of Transcultural Studies, 7(2), 53–88. https://doi.org/10.17885/heiup.ts.2016.2.23590