Earlier this year I visited Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya as part of a team exploring art and the Arab Spring.
Libya, on paper, did not seem promising – what little we found online pre-trip was scant and after more than 40 years under a leader who regarded all art (save favourable images of himself) as suspicious, the artistic element of Libyan society was almost gone.
The key word being almost.
Last week a key exhibit was staged in Tripoli utilizing (recapturing?) public space through the screening of video installations onto walls in of the Medina.
First Glance also featured “Dance of Chaos” by New Zealand’s Mark Pulsford, which fuses human motion with computer software to draw with light.
Nine screens were established at five points of the Medina, including the arch of Marcus Aurelius, the Santa Maria church and the Darghut baths.
For Mattawa, the installations were about moving on as a society, not just artistically,
‘The purpose of this artistic collaboration is to highlight the art of video as a modern medium that can be used to document a wide range of events and serve as a living memory for the people. This medium helped convey to the world the horrors of the repression carried out by the former regime and the popular uprising against dictatorship.’
As I sensed on leaving the country, the Libyan art scene is rapidly emerging to be one of the best in the region – one can only imagine the wealth of creativity to come.