For the light calligraphy component of the project, the artist ‘painted’ calligraphy onto sites with a flashlight at night, condensing the moving light as a text/image through long exposure with a tripod-mounted camera. The results were visually spectacular, and one can also imagine that the public performances of painting with light were equally arresting for passersby/audiences. During the daytime, Jabbari worked on the other component of his project, a more conventional street art piece in Martyr Square with the message “Hope was born here.” This proved to be extremely popular among the area’s youth, many of them joining the artist to paint the wall.
Jabbari sought to connect young people more closely with Arabic culture and language and to memorialize the Tunisian Arab Spring. Taken as a whole, it seems that Light in the Revolution Night was reasonably successful. While the use of light to create immaterial images in space/time can be seen wherever ‘sparklers’ are available, Jabbari skillfully interpreted this popular pastime through the idiom of Arabic calligraphy to produce haunting and aesthetically pleasing artifacts (photographs). The project also brought the artist closer to his own culture, enabling him to express solidarity with what could have remained a struggle witnessed from afar in the relative safety and stability of Canada.
It is worth noting that this project gave rise to several other initiatives by Jabbari, including Towards the Light, the longest graffiti wall in Tunisia, and Streets, a hip-hop art festival held in Kasserine (the artist’s hometown) in 2013. Streets brought rappers, break-dancers and visual artists together in Tunisia to perform and conduct workshops for Kasserine youth. The success of these activities is indicated by positive media coverage in international news outlets such as BBC and Al Jazeera. According to the Al Jazeera news report, “Those youth who participated [in the workshops] said they will keep practicing their art, whether breakdancing, rap, DJing, or graffiti.”
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