Ramallah, which is known as a haven for the West Bank’s cultural scene, has only one or two art galleries and no city art museum. But outside of traditional museum exhibit halls, walls serve as the canvas for a burgeoning arts culture.
Video courtesy of jn1.tv
There are different forms of street and public art in the West Bank. Some has an obviously spontaneous and improvised feel like the work of graffiti artists stenciling or scribbling on walls. In other places, murals completed by Palestinian and sometimes international artists cover entire walls.
Some members of the West Bank art scene see there has been an increase in street art in the West Bank in the last few years, linked to the revolutions going on in the Arab world and the clever and vibrant visual culture which plays such a large part in them.
Yet street art and graffiti have a history in the West Bank.
Political conditions play a definite role in street art and always have. Much of street art focuses on criticizing Israeli military control of the West Bank and the repercussions it has on Palestinians lives.
One of the biggest street art exhibits is the separation wall between Israel and the West Bank. The wall has become colorfully decorated with creative and striking pieces which criticize its presence as a canvas.
But, while traditional political themes persist, young artists are also interested in turning their lenses towards Palestinian society.
One of the important and newer developments in art and street art is recognition and support of its social role.
The West Bank and Ramallah arts scene does not possess the glamour and worldliness typical of some major art hubs, but artists in the West Bank are engaging with questions about what makes good art and what role art plays in society, which make the West Bank’s street art full of energy and edge.