Posters and Politics: A Report from Amman Design Week


Created by Wael Morcos of Lebanon, the poster to the left highlights an important characteristic of Jordanian culture in stunning simplicity. Surprisingly to many Westerners, English is very prevalent in a Jordanian’s everyday life. When I arrived in Amman, I was caught off guard by the amount of English present. Street signs, restaurant advertisements and storefronts almost always display both the Arabic and English names. Looking into the history, I have learned that the use of both languages is is in part due to the historical occupation by Great Britain until 1946. However, English is also becoming more popular in media, music and of course, art (check out Majed Mohamed Hasan Drbseh’s comments in this article from the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications for more information on both languages in Jordan) for the general population. My initial impression of this poster was that the bold English text was targeting the Western world and urging English speakers to be aware of civil liberties. However the subtle and more graceful Arabic script suggests that it is a better representation of the blending of both languages in political life. This poster is a very accurate representation of life in Jordan, where a globalizing world has led to a need to advertise messages and communicate in both English and Arabic.

Ahlan, or hello! My name is Bridget Ireland and I am a junior at St. Lawrence University. This semester I am lucky to be studying in Amman, the capital of Jordan. I am currently a Global Studies and Environmental Studies double major, and I learned about Weave News in my Global Studies 101 class. I am a new contributor to the Weaving the Streets project this semester, and I am very excited to show you some of the artwork and creativity that Jordan has to offer.

Amman was very excited to recently present its first city-wide art fair. Amman Design Week, which ran from the 1st to the 9th of September and allowed  more than 100 artists to show their work at different venues in the city. The Design Week was easily one of the biggest artisti events that Amman has ever hosted, and it generated a lot of excitement. Events ranged from musical performances to workshops to exhibitions, all at different venues connected by shuttle buses. These venues ranges from the top floor of a hotel to the Ras al Ein Gallery, a previous electricity hanger that has been since adapted to host cultural events in Amman. By spreading out events, it allowed for as many Jordanians as possible to attend a variety of events.

 

One of the events I was lucky enough to attend was the Hundred Best Arabic Posters exhibition. This show, which will continue to travel throughout the Arab world after Design Week, is a way for artists to show a variety of cultural and political views. Artists participating in the program originate from many different Arab countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, and of course, Jordan. This post includes photos of a number of the posters that caught my eye. Many of these posters had very clear political messages, and I enjoyed attempting to examine some of these in this post.

 

I started this video as a way to show readers the span of the posters and the way they were set up in the exhibition. While I was walking down the rows ofposters and filming, coincidentally the Islamic call to prayer started in the background. I included the sound in this video to show how common and soothing the frequent call to prayer is, and the inclusion in daily life:

Another one of my favorites on the right is by Mohammad Sharaf relating to issues in the Middle East and Paris as well in the past five years. Terrorism has been widespread, and this poster is designed to create conversation of how the destruction in these cities is heartbreakingly similar. This poster displays unity in the face of pain through these widespread locations.

There were so many impressive works of art in this showing and in the overall Design Week that helped to display the character of Jordan and surrounding countries. It was a great experience that will likely grow even more in the coming years.

 

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