BIRTH OF OUR PROJECT :
A PHOTO OF A GRAFFITI ARTIST IN KABUL
This project was born from a photo.
One day, as I was flipping through a magazine, a photo suddenly thrilled me. It showed a young woman crouching in front of a dilapidated wall. She was holding in her hand a spray can and was painting on the wall bodies of women dressed in burqas, whose fabric melted into waves of the ocean.
Under the picture you could read : Shahmsia, young Afghan, graffiti artist paints on a wall in Kabul.
I was looking at it, flabbergasted...
I tried to estimate how big the risk was that this young woman had taken, painting in the street, in a country where taliban influence are still strong. I tried to imagine how fundamental this kind of art was for her. I tried to understand what was the meaning of this kind of expression for her. Then, I realised that to be an artist is not the same everywhere in the world.
A few months later, as I was filming in Cairo, I discovered on the painted walls of Tahir Place hundreds of revolutionary graffiti.
WOW - Egypt
Many of them had been photographed, filmed, relayed by the media around the world during the Arab Spring. But seeing them with my own eyes is a more striking experience...
Then, it reminded me this young graffiti artist of Kabul.
On Internet, I discovered that among the Tahir square artists, many of them were women. Women who tell on their blogs of the risks they take by practicing graffiti art and claiming their ideas.
Back in Paris, I told all this to Caroline, a friend who is a video-journalist. She was immediately seduced by my discovery and agreed to cooperate and tell the story of these women.
THE PROJECT :
WOMEN TAKE UP ARMS TAKE UP ARTS
Graffiti, but also rap, slam, hip-hop dance, are ways of communication and resistance. Since street art is not trivial, it is an art which is practiced publicly and exposed to everybody. This is its strength and claiming power.
Art becomes an Arm…
A peaceful but powerful weapon because it has the power to deliver strong messages.
A stronger artistic weapon when used in countries where freedom of expression is not always granted.
An even more powerful weapon when revolutionary forms of expression in the collective imagination are seen more as the domain of men than that of women.
A COMMITTED WEB DOCUMENTARY
"Women take up arm take up arts" is a web documentary which tells the story of women living in countries where rights are violated who fight and who expose themselves through street art to assert their freedom.
Rania Riad - Egypt
It is the story of Shams and Safaa who slam and rap in the streets of Tunis and Gaza.
It is the story of Shamsia and Ghadir who graph on the walls of Kabul and Cairo.
It is the story of Ghada who dances in front of passers-by in Tunis.
How street art has imposed itself to women as a platform to express their ideas ?
What is the impact of their ideas on other women, on men, on politicians ?
What does the message delivered by their actions say about our world today, our vision of women, our prejudices, on the situation of their countries ?
What risks do they take to be heard ? What are their expectations, their victories, and their hopes ?
Through this web documentary, we would like to help them to be heard, highlighted, because they are an example of courage and perseverance for us.
Recent revolutions, which saw the emergence of a new generation of commited women, have mostly led us to artists from the Arab world and from Afghanistan, the country where this project started.
But far from the western view that we can have of these women, we will let ourselves be surprised by what they have to tell us, to show us, and to share with us.
Because their freedom is not necessarily the same as our idea of freedom. The feeling of the Tunisian slammer Shams may be very different from the one of Shamsia Afghan graffiti artist who says : "freedom is not to remove burqa, is to have peace".
What interests us is how they manage in this artistic battle, and the impact and the resonance it has in the streets.
Art Solution - Tunisia
A PARTICIPATORY AND ARTISTIC WEB DOCUMENTARY
Our purpose with this web documentary is to create an interactivity around our project. The idea is not only to bring to light engaged women through interactive portraits, but also to encourage other women in the world to show themselves and express themselves through urban art, allowing them to communicate via our web interface.
A part of the interface will be reserved to the web users who thereby will be able to share their artistic engagement, posting videos, photos, and writings like the women we present in our portraits.
The interface of the web doc will reflect the ebullient creativity of the women it shows. The web user will have the possibility to move along the interactive wall covered with virtual graffiti.
The idea is to have one unique wall on which the user can enter different worlds by navigating with their mouse . A part of the wall is allocated to each of the women we present ; another part is reserved to the web users. So, by moving the mouse from right to left of the home page, we can first discover the Shamsia wall, Afghan graffiti artist, then we pass to Safaa, the Palestinian Rap artist, and so on, until we arrive to the participating wall, fueled by the web users.
A menu on the home page will give us the opportunity of selecting directly the wall on which we want to go.
Each wall is identified by a graphical design corresponding to the specific women's world. On the wall of each specific woman, a graffiti stencil comes alive and shows her face, her name and her art.
Then three different portals are proposed for each portrait : Woman, Arm and Art.
Clicking Woman, a movie presents a woman and her story.
Clicking Arm, a movie presents the struggle of this woman in her environment, the risks she takes, and the situation of women in her country.
Clicking Art a movie shows her art, how it is expressed, the message it delivers both in substance and in form and its impact.
For each woman, a full version of her portrait will also be available on her respective wall.
The web user will also have the opportunity to be in relation with other media corresponding to the world of every woman : sound, text, and photos.
A TRANSMEDIA WEBDOCUMENTARY
In order to give the maximum of visibility to our web documentary, we shall propose a 52 ' documentary version for a television broadcast.
We will film sequences and transitions allowing a fluid and coherent 52'.
THE PORTRAITS :
The five portraits we present below were made from video interviews and email exchanges we had with each of these women. They gave us their trust for these presentations and they agreed to participate in the realisation of the web documentary.
SHAMS, Tunisian slammer
Shams is a 21 year old Tunisian slammer. She lives with her parents in Rades, in the southern suburbs of Tunis. She is studying Literature and British and American Civilization at the Institute of Literary Studies and Social Sciences of Tunis.
She has always been writing, but began to slam into the street after the Jasmine Revolution of 2011. Shams is a committed feminist. She belongs to "World March of Women", and " the General Union of Students in Tunisia"
She is a member of the collective "Street Poetry” that brings together young Tunisian slammers. With them, she claims her liberty.
"Me and the street, it‘s a love story, we smoke together and we speak all long day. And yes, you know what? The street told me "do not vote" ! The street, she wanted us for her; she told me : "Look Shams, there are always empty walls. Where are tags? (...) Me, I refuse to vote because I think that resistance is the only solution. I am ready to invest myself until my execution because as I always say, and insist : us, him, you, you are not defeated as long as you resist".
One of her last slams is called "right of art, art of rights."
SHAMSIA, Afghan graffiti artist
Shamsia is a 24 year old Afghan graffiti artist. She has been painting for a long time but mostly on conventional media.
One day, an English boy arrived in Kabul and taught her the art of graffiti. She began to paint on the walls of her town. Her drawings often show women in burqa and ocean landscapes.
She wants to use graffiti to show a positive attitude and try to forget the bad memories that haunt her country.
For her : "Freedom is not to remove burqa, it is to have peace."
She travels all over the world to show her art, which shows the situation of the women in her country.
GHADIR, Egyptian graffiti artist
Ghadir Wagdy is a 24-year-old Egyptian graffiti artist. She studied Art in the "Faculty of fine Arts" in Teheran. Born in Mansoura in Egypt, she lives now in Cairo.
She started to paint graffiti in the streets after the 2011 Revolution.
"At first, it was just to help other artists, but at the end, I felt I wanted to commit myself and some time later I signed my first graffiti on the walls of my home town, in Mansura."
To Gadhir, graffiti is an efficient way to deliver messages and ideas and touch all people in the streets, especially those who cannot go to art galleries.
She recently joined a group of artists called "Women on Walls", which is active in four towns in Egypt : Alexandria, Mansura, Luxor and Cairo. Their message is clear: "How to give power to women".
SAAFA, Palestinian rapper
Saafa began to rap in 2001, when he was 15 year old. At that time, there were no rapper artists in Palestine. Her lyrics talk about the problem faced by young women in the Arab world, and reflect the frustration of Palestinian people living in towns occupied by Israel.
"Sometimes I feel that finally I was more free when I was 15 year old. Here, it is a shame to be a 26-year-old woman and not to be married and not to have children. (...) I rap about things I think I can change. Everything is political in life, rap is political, rap is revolution. I do not demonstrate because I think that I will manage better to change mentalities while talking of my own experiences, showing to other people that we share the same ideas. A personal story is always the best way to talk of the great story : history. I mean I want to tell the young women and men that we come into a new era and that hope is possible".
GHADA Tunisian dancer
Ghada is 26 years old. She devides her time between her job as an engineer and dance. "I have always been dancing, first for myself and only for me ; I need to externalize, to decompress, to calm my anger concerning my country, and my community. A woman dancing in the street in Tunisia is a shame, but I don’t care, I want to show that we can express ourselves, we can be free in our body. And now I dance to struggle."
Recently, Ghada participated in actions in Tunis with the collective "Art Solution". Art Solution is a group of dancers invested in a project called "citizen dancers whose purpose is to present street art as a way of resistance. They dance in Tunis in front of passers-by to express their artistic liberty saying, "Street belongs to art and artists."
For Ghada, dancing is her way to claim her freedom and as a dancer to claim her feminity. Moving with her body is all the more important since the rise of the religious extremism in her country prohibit all kind of artistic expression.
"One day, as I was dancing in front of passers-by with Art Solution, a woman in front of me kept telling me "bitch, bitch!" I had tears in my eyes. At the end of the dance, I fell. I would not have cried if it had been the words of a man, but, here, a woman ... I felt like telling her: but how can you say that when I am you "!
PRODUCTION NOTE :
We want the production to be just like our subject : the web documentary must contain the deep artistic and creative aspect as it is supposed to be.
Consequently, we will be very demanding for the shooting quality with worked centrings and the importance of lighting thanks to the use of a 5D camera besides a traditional one.
We are also going to use stop motion and time lapse techniques.These technical practices will be a part of the aesthetics of the web documentary in its interface ; and also inside each portrait.
They will help to realize a hard-hitting assembly, showing the artistic dynamism of each kind of urban art, of its « hatching » in real time.
Even if the structure will be homogeneous for all the portraits, the filming will be adapted to the different personalities and to each woman background. A mobile camera for the dancer, a frontal one for the graffist or for the slammer.
We will choose the music regarding each own country of the artists. The local rhythms will be able to be remixed in a musical style adapted to each assembly.
We want that the Internet user could feel that he accompanies each woman in her action.
Consequently the camera will be often subjective: It will be at the hight of the graffiti artist’ hands, of the dancer’s feet, of the slamer’s mouth. To give this proximity and immersion effect we will use embarked cameras type GO PRO.
Our shootings with a handheld camera will allow us to reveal the intimate, ebullient creativity, and the urgency of each woman artistic and political universe. More posed interviews will contrast with these moments taken in the heat of the action. The voice over will link these aspects and will allow the internet user to penetrate the mind of each artist.
We will apply ourself to allowing people close to each woman to express themselves, by allowing their family and particularly the men to talk.
THE TEAM :
A video-journalist, Caroline is passionate about travel and cultural exchange. At 21, she moved to Laos where she taught French for three years. On her return to France she worked at Canal France International where she initiated and worked on TV projects to help developing countries. In 2007, she toured the world - solo. Personally and professionally enriched by this experience Caroline decided to develop her career as a video-journalist. She got her first breaks for the RFO and M6 news.
But her passion for images required longer formats. Caroline decided to visit New Caledonia and Brazil to make magazines for the web and TV.
Karine, a passionate director, studied literature before joining the ESAV film school in Toulouse. She made her first films, including her first documentary "It’s a small world", which won the "revelation" prize at the Séquence film festival. She then left for a year taking her across 18 countries to film her project "What you dream ?" shown at several festivals in France and abroad. Since then, Karine has developed programmes and documentaries for the web and television.
We are both convinced that these women, their art, their struggle must be highlighted so please support us ! You will not be disappointed and will contribute simultaneously to highlight the work of artists committed to a strong cause.