Baladk Festival is a street art festival that took place in Amman, Jordan this past May. The festival which started in 2013, brought together international artists from around the region to focus on this year’s theme, “Our city”. In a region where freedom of expression is a challenge to say the least, the Baladk festival showed that the many cultures of the region can be brought together in the streets to reflect the real social fabric that exists but is not often seen.
This project took place in Amman between the time of May 20th and May 26th, a call to Jordanian artists was released in March 1st and the 18 artists were selected by a committee consisted of organizers & local street artists.
Baladk street art project was first inaugurated in Amman in 2013 as a street art project that aimed to empower citizenship through different forms of street art, primarily murals. For 2016, Baladk centralized the activities inside the capital Amman, under a broad theme of Our city, “The influence of the City upon yourself as an artist”. We believe that citizenship is closely linked to the feeling of ownership towards hometowns, which could be beautifully expressed using street arts. so this project aims to turn the streets into festive colorful sites; where people celebrate their existence & freedom from all kinds of oppression. Our main target is the local community and neighborhood, in addition to young street artists who have been oppressed by the public authorities who claim the streets theirs for no justified reasons.
This year, we were glad to have the Lebanese muralist Yazan Halawani with us, where he did a big mural in Lweibdeh. “The plastic mannequin and the hybrid folklore dress”, Yazan painted a plastic mannequin from one of the souvenir stores in Downtown where he dressed the mannequin in a hybrid dress combining elements from Jordanian, Palestinian and Circassian folkloric dresses partially to describe the mix of cultures in this single region and tease passerby’s instinct trying to put a single label according to their origins.
“In front of the wall, passerby’s debated “the origin of that dress and woman” attempting to pin an explicit origin on it by using a single design element like the embroidery or the collar to generalize the identity of the painting; and accordingly judge the value of the represented.” Says Yazan
Prior at the time of planning and searching for regional artists, we were astonished to know that in Saudi Arabia there’s a growing graffiti scene despite the conservative country, so once we had the chance we hosted the Saudi graffiti artists at Dhad Store, a few artists opened the only graffiti store in the country, to and supply the other graffiti artists in Saudi Arabia, they own the only store in Saudi Arabia that is fully interested in graffiti, AbdulAziz, Dyiaa and Abdullah joined forces with us at Baladk to produce a massive mural in Sweifeh, took full 7 days of work.
Another group of artists we had were from Kuwait, Ali Kelsix, Monstariam and Bufifty, whom collaborated with our dearest Jordanian artist Yara Hindawi and DeevGraff joined by Russian graffiti artist Egor kabyone who is based in Amman to produce a massive detailed collaborative mural in Sweifieh, they spent 3 days painting it.
At another level, this year; we were lucky also to host the French based Tunisian artist Shoof who decomposes Arabic letters that lie in the base of calligraphy and uses them as a pretext for his artworks. he spent a lot of time teaching techniques to the emerging young artists that joined this project as well as drawing some fascinating pieces on the walls of Jabal Al Nadhif and Jabal Amman. It was a great experience for us as well the local artist as some of them whom participated never had the chance to draw on walls before, it was an eye popping situation to see the creativity that they hold within themselves. they collaborated in Sweifieh, Abdoun (airportroad) and Jabal Al Lweibdeh where they spent two days painting with each others.
Young emerging local artists have a big impact at Baladk Project. this year, we we were happy to have the Jordan based artists Yazan Hija, Ibrahem Qamar, Suha Sultan, Hind Al Far, Joanna Mdanat, Dina Fawakhiri, Azza, Saddeq Abu Ghoush, Deev Graff, Yara Hindawi, Ibrahim Tonnerieux , Aster Sfc and Hamza Al Salhi and other artists that joined us in the last day. Baladk Project finished by a street art show in a closing celebration that was performed by Studio 8, where they performed fireshows, beatboxing and some rap and hip-hop music.
Al Balad Theater collaborated with Jordanian based graffiti artists Mike V. Derderian & Wessam shadid from FADA 317 to execute the project. and our local paint company National paints were so generous as they provided and sponsored the project by all the paint for free. and also we had the chance to have the sponsorship of the German based spray cans company Montana Cans as they provided us with spray cans of all colors.