"Life imitates art far more than art imitates life," Oscar Wilde once wrote. Little did we know his words would be challenged decades later, in a tiny land residing miles away from his home.
Lebanon's October protests - or as the hashtags, graffiti, artwork, and people have it, thawra - relayed the meaning of the word revolutionary in various forms. People have reclaimed public spaces, held discussions in areas that were previously deserted (aka reserved for the upper class), demanded their rights day in and day out, and set up tents and speakers so that their voices are heard ... all to see the demise of the decades-old sectarian-based political system that has left the nation and its people broken.
People's high-spirited souls have made it possible for memorable artwork to surface. Artistic expression has manifested on walls, on placards, and on the internet. The thawra will never be forgotten as it has left behind markings both on the ground and in the feed.
Enter "Art of Thawra"
Art of Thawra, an Instagram page that posted its first post a few days after the Lebanese took to the streets, is not a mere feed of artworks; it has become the home of Lebanese creatives who wish to paint a different picture for Lebanon. Their imagination is a palette of different shades; their artwork is their combat zone.
Within days, the Instagram page - curated by Paola Mounla - amassed over 8,000 followers and counting. Its first post was shared on Oct. 21 and has since collected over 700 artworks in honor of Lebanon's largest demonstration in recent memory. The page shares and re-shares artworks that were born out of the revolution.
As a creative director with 13 years of experience in the communication and advertising industry, Mounla has been exposed to a lot of young talent whose work is "creative and beautiful yet underexposed," the curator of Art of Thawra told StepFeed.
At the start of the revolution, Mounla began gathering thawra-inspired artworks on her personal Instagram account for four days. Little did she know when the revolution started that it would ignite an artistic uprising as well.
"The content started growing, it was creative and powerful, one artist was inspiring the other to create and a domino effect was created," she said.
"From there, it only felt natural to give them a platform where they could shine and express themselves freely and connect with each other, in a time where they really wanted to express themselves, the Revolution."
And so, Art of Thawra came to life.
Locked in chains
Mounla firmly believes art is an outlet for creatives as it is a form of expression that comes from within.
"Art is an intellectual and peaceful way for youth to express themselves. Art is a means to let things out creatively, thus reducing violence. I believe that is the role art is playing in this revolution. A catalyst of freedom and peace. An outlet," she said.
The artworks on Art of Thawra, all user-generated, illustrate artistic expression like no other. The pieces know no boundaries, no red lines, and no standard acting as a benchmark.
"The collection of art covers a wide spectrum of creative twists, themes and ideas and an even wider spectrum of artistic mediums from digital Instagram filters, to gifs and animations, graffitis, to oil on canvas," Mounla said.
It was the diversity of the pieces and the users' freedom to be artistically creative gathered on Art of Thawra that made it so popular in such a short period of time.
"The art is almost created in real-time. An event would happen, 30 minutes later, you have a piece of art created."
People are the revolution
The protests in Lebanon have been ongoing for over two weeks. The people have proven to be the flames of the revolution; their anger and frustration have fueled the fire since day one.
The people are the revolution and the fact that people from different social, political, and religious backgrounds have taken to the streets is proof of that statement. The people have made history; photographs, videos, and drone shots will forever live as a reminder to what Lebanon witnessed in 2019.
Artistic history is another story and the preservation of artworks is of paramount importance. With Art of Thawra, that's been made possible.
"We're documenting artistic history. In this magnitude and amount of content, it must be a first for the country. These pieces will forever exist, be used in schools and in books and go down in history as part of Lebanon's 2019 revolution," Mounla told StepFeed.
"They capture key moments and events - forever immortalized in artwork."