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With the benefit of hindsight, what role does new media play in artistic practices, activism, and as an agent for social change in the Middle East and North Africa today?

Adham Faramawy
2 November 2012

One of the more important aspects of the uses of new media and in particular social media is the emergence and visualisation of online communities. These participant groups have utilised the tools offered by social media sites, such as the creation and exchange of user-generated content, to inform and influence the communities that sites like Facebook have enabled.


Facebook wasn't designed with artists in mind, yet the innumerable methods artists use to incorporate social networking into their practices astonish me. In employing Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr et al, artists dispense a measure of creative control to the deterministic approaches employed in the development of networking platforms.


Social networking sites have instigated an over-determined standardisation in the culture of information technologies. Simultaneously they've offered tools and developed networks to simplify and accelerate data distribution, empowering artists to disseminate their ideas and manage their own promotional strategies.


Live streaming and real time status updates have allowed users to create and follow sometimes banal, often emotive, political and personal narratives, unexpectedly mobilising communities to politicised action.


Content generated and shared online by protesters has exposed a culture of bias and propaganda perpetuated by news journalists, contributing to the destabilisation of governments and problematising the authority of both print and broadcast media.


In a liberal framework, artists are obliged to perform the role of activist, negotiating institutional structures and instigating organisational reform. Parallel to the development of new media technologies, artists have devised manifold potential technological substrates for their ideas as well as multiple exhibition platforms. However, artists' uses of new media networks have left the scantly-regulated organisational structures that art markets operate within relatively unaffected.


As an architecture of interaction, social networks are not just technical but experiential. They encourage participation and in the normalisation of multiple pseudonyms, facilitate a mode of relocation, distancing work from the preeminence of authorship and the primacy of objects.


Visualising complex representations has enabled multiple sites of user identification, rejuvenating dialogues on the role of the artist and the individual in relation to identity, community and economy. It is in these moments of fantastical uncertainty that online networks, as proposed spaces for egalitarian exchange, generate potential through fluctuation, encouraging flux through a continual redefinition of meaning.

Adham Faramawy

Adham Faramawy (1981) is a Dubai born, London based artist of Egyptian origin. His work spans media including moving image, sculptural installation and print, engaging and using technology to discuss issues of embodiment and identity construction.


Recent group exhibitions include London Open, Whitechapel Gallery, London, I'm here but you've gone, Fiorucci Art Trust, London, Post Pop to Post Human: Collage in the digital age, Hayward Touring. Solo exhibitions include Hydra, Cell Projects, London and Feels Real, Marian Cramer Projects, Amsterdam.


Faramawy's video works have been included in screening events such as Flatness, Oberhausen Film Festival, Syndrome of a Decade, Ikono Film Festival, Diamond Dust – A shifting grammar of originality, Circa Projects, Edinburgh Arts Festival and 21st Century Pop at the ICA, London touring to Turner Contemporary, Margate, MK, Milton Keynes, Cornerhouse, Manchester and Tramway in Glasgow.
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What is a platform?

A platform is a space for speaking in public. It is an opportunity to express ideas and thoughts. It also suggests the formal declaration of a stance or position on any given subject.

Unique to Ibraaz is a 'platform', a question put to writers, thinkers and artists about an issue relevant to the MENA region. This platform is sent to respondents both within and beyond the MENA region and contributions will be archived every 12 months.