2/05/2016

An Egyptian Eye

Thousands of Egyptians poured into Cairo's Tahrir Square on Jan. 25, 2011, to participate in mass demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak's long regime. 

The day would come to signify the start of dramatic changes in Egypt’s sociopolitical structure, and it would also spark hope in everyday citizens, young and old, who had become frustrated with the widespread corruption, persistent unemployment and police brutality that were so common under Mubarak.

A young graphic designer and artist who uses the name Ganzeer for his artistic work found himself among those in the heart of the revolutionary moment. He armed himself with the power of art and a newfound sense of purpose. 


"It just felt like the most important thing in the world," the artist told The WorldPost.

With his massive murals on the walls of Cairo --most notably his portraits of people who died in Tahrir Square-- and political posters available online to download and distribute, Ganzeer quickly became a public figure in the movement and acquired a large following.

Ganzeer's often-satirical artwork, which unabashedly criticizes Egypt's leadership and challenges the moral codes of traditional Egyptian society, also gained international attention. 

The artist saw his work featured in exhibitions around the world and his name splashed on the pages of many media outlets, including The New York Times, The Nation and Vice.



Ganzeer moved to the U.S. in 2014, living first in New York City before relocating to Los Angeles. 

He won't return to Egypt for now because he's concerned for his safety, but he has continued to stay politically active through his work -- his recent focus on police brutality and the New York City Police Department being a prime example.

"I feel the need to make sure, when I spend time doing something, that it is something that needs to be done," he said. 


Ganzeer talked to The WorldPost to reflect on the Arab Spring, Egypt's future and his own journey from a graphic designer to an artist who helped rally people wanting to bring down an autocratic regime. 

Let's go back to the beginning of the 2011 protests, when people were first taking to the streets. 

What was going through your mind?

To be honest, I thought the kids that gathered in public spaces were going to get their asses kicked. That’s as far as my thinking went. I didn’t think it would go any further at all.



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