My wife Kathy and I were invited to American University Beirut last week. Kathy did a theater workshop and I presented a slide show on New York graf, showed Style Wars and went around with a local film crew and a couple of street artists to look at some of the work being done in that town in Beirut, I went around with one of the members of the Ashekman crew, actually, another set of identical twin graffiti artists on the global scene, the first being Os Gemeos. The word Ashekman is a street slang word derived from the French word “echappement” which means “exhaust”, therefore it also means “pollution”. Ashekman have borrowed techniques from New York style and adapted both “bubble” letters and “wild style” to Arabic calligraphy with very good results. While in New York, graffiti was mostly aimed at theartists’ adolescent peers, in Beirut, artists, are using the idea of appropriating public space to express ideas which target the wider community. Ashekman say they love their city and their work communicates ideas that celebrate its historic vitality and resilience. I was pleased to see that artists in Beirut don’t hesitate to paint images that criticize and exhort the their fellow citizens to wake up! or to think twice before unleashing the wrecking ball that destroys the architectural heritage. There are some funny stenciled images and others that symbolize freedom, or that praise the Iraqui journalist who threw his shoe at George Bush, or that exhort us to practice safe sex…. and sometimes just expression, as the stencil artist who created faces to symbolize all our different moods. Omar said he would translate for the Arabic for me. Meanwhile I’ll put up a few flics. Omar, one of the twins of Ashekman


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Posted: December 6, 2010


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