Artist Murad Subay depicts the challenges and troubling results of Yemen’s civil war by creating murals and graffiti, drawing attention to the plight of fellow Yemenis and remembrance to thousands of lives lost. Motifs are placed among the bombed ruins underscoring the ongoing warfare and subsequent ravaged landscape. The project is Murad’s fifth undertaking titled Ruins. Choosing wall spaces bordering war zones, the painting and installation was often interrupted by fighting, loss of electricity, and resources. Sometimes supported by fellow artist Thi Yazen, Murad would also enlist the participation of the Yemini community to assist in painting images — thus making the graphical statements communal and not only his own.
Like in Syria, media emphasis of political conflict, military campaigns, fragile cease fires, and official statements often overshadow human suffering and humanitarian shortcomings, and efforts like Ruins, along with the social media it generates, hopefully helps refocus attention from the political noise to the human realities.
Murad is sometimes compared to graffiti artist, Banksy, but unlike Banksy, he prefers public installation of art over anonymity, and he welcomes people watching and helping him perform his work. He says:
“Art is another way to highlight our concerns as people, and to send messages to local people and to the global audience about what’s happening in Yemen. When people see a mural, they are reminded every time that there were killings there.”
“This war is not the people’s struggle. The people’s struggle is just to find something to eat, something to drink, and something to provide shelter.”
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