Conflict & Justice

Bombarded by art and change in Egypt

The smile almost leaping off my face, nerves running through my veins, I watch a lady stare into a painting, a befuddled look on her face.

My toes refuse to stay on the ground as I miraculously keep myself from asking her, “What do you think of this shit?”

The piece is predominantly blue with night lights loosely stretched across the top and a blur of traffic scratched across the bottom. Black and red figures jump across the tinted night sky. On this collage, the label reads Sara Elkamel.

I was one of 47 young artists who created the work showcased in an exhibition entitled “Pulse” at the upscale Tache Art Gallery in Designopolis, 40 kilometers west of Cairo.

It was the latest big event in a year that has been utterly mad. for my country and for me personally. A revolution changed this country to its very core. A surge of hope snuck up on Egyptians, many of whom were hopeless for years. Fragments of change unified in Tahrir Sqaure, liberating a people of a seemingly inevitable fate.

And my personal revolution has taken me from a conference in Italy to a reporting internship in London to an art show in Dubai. And then back to Egypt, completing the circle. Neither revolution ended on February 11th when Mubarak was forced to step down.

As every day bears questions about the future, hope is built and at times diminished. But at least there is life and there is light. Ultimately, this revolution, like any revolution initially leads to total chaos before things fall into the right place, whatever that may be. You come into power, and you don’t know what to do with it.

I suddenly find myself on the verge of becoming — whatever I will be. And like my country, I am fumbling and changing, tripping and becoming something. Driven by a desire to have it all: The words, the colors, the spotlight. I set out to start my career in art. And so far, it seems worth it. After years of thinking I wanted to be an artist, I stopped thinking and actually became one.

That’s the thing about living a revolution. Barriers are diminished — the ones you find imposed on you and those you force upon yourself. And suddenly, it’s you and a world of options, in a ruthlessly impatient world that changes day after day after day.

That look of dismay on the art fan’s face was followed by a tweet from a childhood friend: “@SaraFarag's piece at Pulse is incredible. I'm a big fan!”