Egyptian artist seeks to re-unite Jan 25th movement
By the look of his paint-spattered Adidas, it’s no surprise that Mohammad Fahmy is an artist. But what’s less evident is his transformation from Egyptian designer to street artist to political surveyor and researcher, all within the span of the last six months.
After watching the anti-regime coalition that ousted Mubarak grow weaker because of internal divisions, Mohammad - also known as Ganzeer - decided to conduct a survey to identify common goals and principles, which could be used to unite the splintering movement. When we spoke with him on July 10, he had already collected 10,000 paper surveys and was aiming to get another 10,000. Mohammad hopes to use the results to create a “roadmap” for future action to be disseminated to news outlets to publicize.
“When it comes down to what’s supposed to happen next, who’s supposed to lead us, what’s supposed to be in the constitution, that’s always a point of conflict between people. The military use that…they use these differences and points of conflict to ignite even more differences. The idea of the survey was to focus on principles and maybe see what are the principles that the majority of people in Tahrir could agree on.”
Mohammad readily admits that he’s of his comfort zone. Prior to the survey, art was his only avenue for activism. The start of the revolution on January 25 was the first day that Mohammad picked up a spray can and took his art to the streets. He has been behind many of Cairo’s most iconic images of the revolution, spray painted on walls and buildings. He issues calls on Twitter for volunteers to help create the stencils and participate in the making of graffiti art. You can check out his work here.
For him, making the jump to street art and then to political surveys is not that strange. The only question that guides his work is: “What’s the best way to handle the situation?” - creating political surveys (note that this is not a scientific poll in any way) was as much a reaction to events as was picking up a stencil and painting a huge message to Mubarak in the middle of Tahrir square during Egypt's 18 day uprising.
Mohammad with a crew of volunteers stenciling a new martyr mural in Cairo.
Mohammad with his proud crew in front of the finished mural.