Patrycja Sasnal ” The new will come from the South”

Sep 20, 2018 · 3 min read
In the most undemocratic and the most conflict-generating region of the world, which is the Middle East, slow but fundamental and positive sociopolitical processes take place. They result in turmoil and contradictions – which make everyday life more difficult, but provide perfect mulch for growth.
FESTIVAL TRAILER      Contradictory to the stereotype of a homogeneous Muslim territory, the Middle East, like Poland, used to be one of the most diverse areas on Earth just a century ago. Even in villages two languages were taught: someone`s own and a neighbour`s. Today it is dominated by Islam; however, this religion is as much the reason for hardship as it might be a reason for success of the Middle East. It is one of the most transformative of the three great religions – the most “Protestant-like”, as Ernest Gellner, the famous British philosopher, said. This means that Islam – owing to the power of its own doctrine – adapts to changeable sociopolitical conditions. It sounds like aberration since the cradle of Islam – the Middle East – is today so socially conservative and politically authoritarian. However, it was there in 2011 where millions of people overthrew four dictators. It turned out then that the greater the contradiction, the clearer the action – the stronger the reaction. This cycle has just begun – majority of Middle East states are younger than 80 years, and most of their citizens are under 24. This region has entered some kind of long year 1989 – a long transformation. The barometer of these changes, like once in Poland, is the art scene.  The old Arab world – symbol of all that art doesn`t accept: constraint, closure, limitations – slowly and in convulsions is becoming a thing of the past. The new Middle East – open, free, diverse and spiritual – is visible in the artistic work of young Arabs. Alternative music clubs, niche galleries in poor city districts, off performances constitute the avant-garde of the change which is inevitably coming. The outcome of this long transformation is yet unknown, however, looking at the artistic scene, it is clear that the blueprint will not come from the West. The Middle East experienced colonialism in its newest and most perfidious form – from the western countries, modern and considering themselves the cradles of human rights. As a result of this oppression, Middle East countries are more class than anywhere else, and the elites took over the role of colonizers. Other parts of the world have also experienced violence and war from the hegemons – states which monopolize international affairs, but no other in the last thirty years has been the target of six American military interventions. Also nowhere in the 21st century have so many people died (1.5 million is a credible estimate) or have been injured or relocated (tens of millions). This oppression is the source of anti-Americanism and a sense of injustice, but in the young generation it is an impulse to search for one`s own way: justice and freedom. Philosopher and activist, Franz Fanon, believed that the global South will bring humanity a “new humanism” – free and just. The art scene of the Middle East proves this thesis might still be prophetic.

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