From the legend of Robin Hood, to the Luddite rebellion, public campaigns against the Poll Tax and inner-city deprivation, to the establishment of the first UK Chapter of Black Lives Matter; the people of Nottingham have an established history of civil resistance and political defiance.
Commissioned by NAE to reflect the current debates within our city's activist network, artists Kajal Nisha Patel and Sunil Shah present a mixed-media installation created in dialogue with local advocacy groups. Their project, titled a rebel scene addresses the concept of space, be that mental, physical or virtual, as a discursive realm where political ideas can be cultivated. They explore how activists appropriate these spaces in order to challenge and change the status quo.
Our interest in space as a political tool continues beyond Nottingham to the streets of Tehran and Cairo in a photography exhibition titled Fighting Walls: Street Art In Egypt And Iran. Here we explore how the urban skin of these cities has become a battleground between the authorities and the people. Whilst the walls and public spaces of Tehran and Cairo are largely dominated by state ideological narratives, in more recent years, a new generation of politically engaged graffiti artists have started a relentless battle for reclaiming ownership of the streets. Through striking images, Fighting Walls examines graffiti not only as a form of social protest but also as a creative language which addresses the masses by embracing contemporary socio-political issues.
The exhibitions are accompanied by our events programme. This includes: a panel discussion for a rebel scene with Nottingham activist groups and the artists; an exhibition tour with a rebel scene artists; and Walls of Freedom further exploring Egyptian and Iranian mural art.