I don’t think I remember this sort of anticipation for a day in Egypt since January 28th of 2011. Sure there’s always been the anticipation leading up to the two January 25th anniversaries since the first January 25th of 2011, the day the Egyptian revolution is considered to have kicked off, but the anticipation of June 30th of this year, much like January 28th of 2011, is not the result of an impending anniversary, but rather out of an expectancy to overthrow the regime. This would make your regular outsider assume that what’s in store for June 30th of 2013 is probably very akin to what happened on January 28th, 2011. Due to a number of different circumstances accompanying the lead up to June 30th of this year, I do believe things could end very very differently.
Back in January 28, 2011, there wasn’t a major precedence of violence other than that of January 25, which was, to be fair, quite limited. Also, most people were under the assumption that if participation was in large numbers, there was no way authorities would have the nerve of resorting to violence. This meant that most people were not armed with much else than their voices. Moreover, back then pretty much everyone was fed up with Mubarak’s regime, and if you weren’t then you were probably of the passive sort, a member of what we Egyptians like to refer to as Hezb El Kanaba or The Couch Party. This meant that there was definitely no expectancy that it could ever be possible to clash with fellow civilians. Now that people have become witness to all sorts of violence on part of authorities for the past couple of years, they know what to expect and they will want to be prepared for it. Add to that the knowledge that a significant percentage of the populace is supportive of The Muslim Brotherhood, or rather… is The Brotherhood. This means that civil clashes is not only considered possible but actually quite inevitable.
Instead of the standard review approach, where one particular writer will get on a high horse and tell the world about his/her opinion on a film, fellow artist and flat mate Taha Bilal and myself decided to sit down and talk about Alison Klayman’s documentary film Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. It’s usually what one does after seeing a film anyway: we talk about the film and discuss the film, right?
So it seems like the best way to sort of review things.
Taha Bilal: So had you heard of Ai Weiwei before watching the film?
Ganzeer: Oh yeah plenty. Especially in regards to his arrest and blog being suspended or something like that. You?
Taha: Yeah, but… I knew of him as…uhhhh?
Ganzeer: As activist or artist?
Taha: I think as an artist.
Ganzeer: And what exactly was the impression or idea you had of him in your head?
Taha: Uhhh — He was doing cool work. Cool, conceptual artwork. Like… I remember seeing one of his most famous pieces; those vases with Coca-Cola painted on them.
Taha: Or the one with him breaking the old vase. Which, I would say, formally looks and fits with a very Western idea of what Contemporary Art is.
Ganzeer: Also fits Western ideologies, no? That there’s this Chinese man taking Chinese heritage and breaking it! By doing so stating that he doesn’t want any of that and that he wants something new, something different. This, of course, matches Western ideologies very much and fits with their belief in that Western culture should be the dominant culture, the culture embraced by all. And probably can be seen as very offensive to… not only the Chinese government but to many Chinese people even.
Taha: Yeah. But at the same time I can relate to that sometimes one would want to… be like fuck all this Pharaonic heritage shit, y’know?
Ganzeer: Really, dude? I wish we had more Pharaonic heritage going on! We got nothing and everything! It’s a mess!