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Baladk - Street and Urban Arts Project.

Transforming the city into an open-air gallery

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Image by Arthur Tainturier

A longstanding project that I curated for many years (2015-2022) is the Baladk Street and Urban Arts Project; an internationally celebrated and recognised project that is defined as an annual festival that includes street art, public interventions, public talks and discussions, workshops with curated national and international artists.

BALADK is a project that brings art to public spaces by gathering global and local artists to paint the -so called murals- while addressing different social and political topics. The murals stretches in various locations around Amman. My curation work focused on the public interventions that cross artists and communities to transform the walls into open air museums in a culturally sensitive spaces.

My work with Baladk always focused on how inclusivity can be applied to projects that included working with local, regional, and international artists; such as open call approach where artists from all backgrounds and nationalities can apply to produce murals on different themes across Amman under the umbrella and support of Baladk.


The curation of the project focused on two principles: first, that art is for all humankind and street art is a community generated art-form. Second, that artistic collaboration breaks down barriers. The festival facilitates collaborations between artists, organisations, and communities, generating rich new ideas in the process. Baladk artists turn beige limestone facades into festive, colourful sites, where people can celebrate their existence and envision freedom from any kind of oppression.

With this long term project, I managed to curate around 35 large murals around the city and many other small public interventions and shared common walls that gathered artists from different backgrounds and disciplines.

 

Throughout the years, The curation work of Baladk focused on finding different themes that shed the light on contemporary social and political issues and challenged the public space with topics that need to be voiced. The themes have constantly posed as a push for local and international artists to challenge their artistic endeavours to explore new horizons to their practice.

I believe that street art is an extremely effective tool in communicating and resisting the multiple forms of oppression practiced on different demographics. The aftermath of the tumultuous events in Jordan’s neighbouring countries resulted in a drastic change of its social texture, becoming more complicated with people becoming closer to street culture for example, Hip Hop, Skateboarding...etc. Street culture is important as it gives people a window into the issues that are important to people’s lives. Whilst it has always been important in highlighting the salient issues of our society, it is becoming more important as a tool as it has the power to shape our societies’ creativity. Baladk’s mission is to grow a more gender balanced art inclusive scene in Jordan by providing artists with opportunities to share their messages through public interventions.

Working closely with local communities and neighbourhoods was also one of my main focuses during my curation work, also the lobby work with the city municipality and council, cultural activists, public, civil, and international organisations that eventually assisted indirectly into highlighting the right of arts in public spaces, it is an enormous collective effort by a lot of actors who believed that art in public spaces is a right and not luxurious. 

The use of the public space, its spontaneity, its creativity, and its intimate connections with the people comes from the bedrock of street art. Having Amman as a salient destination of street art in the region, comes to the fore of my curation vision.


I curated this project in hopes to shift the visual perspective back the rightful owners: the people. In 2021, Baladk addressed through mural paintings the themes and topics of children’s right to play, people’s right to green public spaces and heritage. In 2020, Baladk addressed the topic of waste and environment, in 2019 Baladk “inclusion” created art and murals around the streets to open conversations about those who are excluded, exploring the causes, context, and effects. 2018 was the year of “The people”, artists reflected humans around them. In 2017 Baladk focused on otherness, how we cast aside, and divide based on menial and superficial details. For 2016, Baladk encouraged artists to portray the influence of the city upon themselves. Resistance was the broad topic of Baladk 2015, preceded by Baladk “Women on Walls” in 2014 by inviting 25 women artists from MENA. All themes have been building upon the cornerstone festival, Baladk “The experiment Project” in 2013.

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Image by Arthur Tainturier

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