Artivism in Tunis - Music and Art as tools of creative resistance & the cultural re: mixing of a revolution

University essay from Malmö högskola/Kultur och samhälle

Abstract: This Thesis explores artistic activism or artivism in the context of youth in post- revolution Tunisia. During and after the Arab Uprisings, the MENA region has experienced a tendency, wherein resistance is undertaken by artivists through in situ art interventions, music, and performances that create ‘new cultural spaces’, in which cultural hybridism through the mix of urban youth subculture, communication and traditional culture, creates new contexts of authenticity. It further investigates how art and activism is used in Tunis as a tool to mirror, provoke or communicate messages that directly or indirectly deal with post-revolution themes, and which mechanisms exist in limitations of artistic freedom of expression. It utilizes concepts of cultural resistance through theorists Stephen Duncombe and discusses the concept artivism as a hybrid term, through Aldo Milohnic. It then delineates subculture, authenticity and hybridization through various theorists and examines Artistic Freedom of Expression through the standpoint of international conventions and reports. The Thesis also analyzes artistic activism, commodification and globalization through a re-contextualization of Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin. Guiding this analysis are interrelated points of redefining Arab youth subcultures, through interviews conducted with five young Tunisian artists who combine artistic expression with political commentary and activism. I argue that a new dynamic discourse is shaped in the MENA region through the re-mixing of a cultural narrative which becomes re-contextualized locally, and therefore becomes authentic in a ‘glocal’ context. The Thesis offers analytical contribution to the field of cultural production in a Tunisian political context and adds to the research field of artistic activism.

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