From the legend of Robin Hood, to the Luddites, to it's pockets of independent communities, Nottingham has long worn the tattoo of a rebel city. As part of the Season of Protest and Activism at the New Art Exchange this Autumn, the gallery is hosting a series of exhibitions and events to celebrate the city’s rebellious spirit, as well as movements of political defiance around the world.
Fighting Walls: Street Art in Egypt and Iran & A Rebel Scene
The exhibition brings together Egypt and Iran to explore the shared ways in which each distinct nation has responsed to unease between governing powers and civilians. In the absence of free speech, artists have taken to the walls of their cities to open a dialogue between the general population, activist groups and governmental powers, as well as using urban artforms to protest and express their views.
The lower floor gallery is set out to replicate the streets of Tehran and Cairo, featuring large scale images of bona-fide graffiti pasted on to the gallery walls. As well as photographs, there are also posters, murals and even a video game which disguise messages in visual forms. It was interesting to distinguish which artworks had been censored by the authorities to change the message they relay.
The locally focused part of the exhibition draws on Nottingham’s history of rebellion, from the 1950s race riots to mining strikes, and from women's liberation protests through to the city's recent involvement in the Black Lives Matter campaign. Archive material from Nottingham’s ‘Sparrows Nest’ anarchist library are on display alongside specially commissioned collages from women’s groups, documenting the momentum of the city’s past and current activism.