1. Al Jazeera talks to Libyan artist Mohammad bin Lamin who used art to survive his time in prison before the country's revolution. From drawing on his prison cell walls with whatever he could find to his post-revolutionary art including sculptures made from used bullets and shells, bin Lamin hopes his art will offer a spiritual answer for the daily oppression around the world.

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Mohammad Bin Lamin

Mohammad Bin Lamin

The Power of Mohammad Bin Lamin’s Art and The Libyan Revolution

By Hego Goevert

Can art be subversive? Oh, yes, it can! And there is no better evidence for this statement than the art of Mohammad Bin Lamin.
Let me come right to the point:
Mohammad…


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The Power of Mohammad Bin Lamin’s Art and The Libyan Revolution

By Hego Goevert

Can art be subversive? Oh, yes, it can! And there is no better evidence for this statement than the art of Mohammad Bin Lamin.
Let me come right to the point:
Mohammad Bin Lamin’s art is unique. It can not be categorized. And, of course, it eludes the control of any authority.
His art clearly contributed to the outbreak of the Libyan revolution. He is one of those artists, writers, intellectuals who prepared the ground.
If you are able to ‘read’ paintings, you simply have to have a look at his 2007 series ‘Figures’ which depicts the pre-revolutionary atmosphere in Libya. Figures – painted on a unique and wonderful blue background - in yellow, red, white, brown, wildly moving, dancing, and whirling around like some sort of mystical dervishes. The series expresses the irrepressible passion, the individual desire for freedom. Later, in his New Media series, Bin Lamin takes a closer look at the people’s faces and you can see grim, wrath. He also started to paint groups of people as if there would be a secret gathering going on...

When I got the news of his detention I immediately implemented various actions – together with my fellow artists of the internationally acclaimed MIRCA ART GROUP. We implemented actions as we had done before in aid of the release of Burma’s (Myanmar’s) Aung San Suu Kyi and China’s Ai Weiwei. Now one of our fellow members, Mohammad Bin Lamin, had been arrested and for unbearable 6 months we did not know if he was still alive.
We felt more than a great relief and joy when we got the news that our friend had been freed from the detention in the infamous Abu-Salim-prison. This was a kind of victory for all of us!

Of course, Mohammad Bin Lamin’s art has changed since the end of the revolution. I think, it’s quite typical for him, that he started doing a captivating series called ‘Sculptures of War’, showing impressive sculptures made of bullet casings, in which he comforts and encourages the amputees of the revolution (“Life can be joyful and rewarding again!”). Only after doing this series he started to overcome his own trauma by doing the amazing ‘Torture of Tintalos’ series.

I do not think that anyone of us can imagine what Mohammad Bin Lamin has gone through (nightly mock executions!!!) during his detention – knowing that his wife was pregnant. I was so touched when she finally gave birth to two lovely girls, his daughters Takbeer & Tahleel. May they reap in their lives what their father and the other heroes of the revolution sowed!

I am so proud of being called Mohammad’s FRIEND. It is an honour to be friend with someone who stood up for the freedom of the individual, for the freedom of speech and art, for the dignity of man and for social justice. Though deeply rooted in the great culture of Libya, Mohammad Bin Lamin is a ‘global citizen’. I can not think of any better cultural ambassador for Libya!

Heinz ‘HEGO’ Gövert

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