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More than Guns and Oil

In post-Gaddafi Libya, an audacious few look to re-ignite the nation’s creative impulse.

When the unrest in Libya first began almost four years ago, newspapers and magazines reported about the explosion of art in the streets of Benghazi and Tripoli. Graffiti and murals covered every inch of bullet-ridden surface, lending the streets a visual vibrancy that matched the revolutionary fervor in post-Gaddafi Libya. Art exhibitions were being held for the first time. The international press regularly gave shout outs to Libyan artists, like sculpture artist Ali Wakwak and ceramicist Hadia Gana. International organizations like the Goethe Institute and the British Council invested in efforts to promote local cultural production, funding literary and arts events in Libya.

The passions that fuelled the revolution were soon replaced by disillusionment with the stagnating democratic process. However, a number of institutions have emerged recently to rekindle the creative energies unleashed by the 2011 uprising. Among them is Noon Arts, an arts collective helmed by Najlaa Alageli and Nesreen Gebreel, two Libyan women who’ve spent much of their lives abroad.

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