Anatomy of Revolution

2021 Fay Chandler Creativity Grant

How to become a Dictator in 12 steps. Detail from the interface for the Anatomy of Revolution website (in progress), 2020. Photo of child courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation.
Anatomy of Revolution. Video animation still. Commissioned by MUDAM, Contemporary Art Museum, Luxembourg, 2021.
ABC: A Lesson in History. Installation view. Dear Truth, Hasselblad Foundation, 2021.
Don't Be Too Candid, Installation view. Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Karim Hanna. 2018.
Watch Out for Zuzu, Installation view. Gwangju Biennale, South Korea, 2018.
Still. Data visualization. Vox Populi: Tahrir Archives. Software and database of images, videos and articles. 2017-ongoing.
Still. Infograph of online archive initiatives. 2016.
Friday of Victory. A week after President Hosni Mubarak was toppled. Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt. Photo Lara Baladi, February 18, 2011.

Archiving movements of protest

About

Anatomy of Revolution draws inspiration from Lara Baladi’s participation in Egypt’s 2011 uprisings and her ongoing research on the iconography of protests. This web-based art project marks the tenth anniversary of Egypt’s Tahrir Square and a decade of unprecedented social global movements.

At once an artistic and educational endeavor, Anatomy of Revolution invites internauts to explore Baladi’s Vox Populi, Tahrir Archives, an archive of digital data the artist has gathered and curated since 2011. 

The interface to navigate the archive is an ABC, an abecedary of revolting. The viewer scrolls ad infinitum down or up, from A to Z, to explore definitions, concepts, anecdotes, and methods of achieving sustainable social change. Anatomy of Revolution reflects on the principle inherent to all revolutions: the quest for freedom.

Throughout the twenty-eight letters of the Arabic alphabet, the abecedary weaves contemporary iconography of protest with the history of art—in particular the representation of revolts and revolutions—along with excerpts from literature, press articles, and references from popular visual culture. This visual narrative is inspired by, and turns on its head, the language of propagandist educational tools, illustrating and defining vocabulary which has emerged and will continue to emerge from protests.

While Anatomy of Revolution dissects the cycle of revolutions across time and cultures, it highlights Egypt’s 2011 uprising and its aftermath; the 2019 protests in Lebanon, Hong Kong, Bolivia, and Sudan; and the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in the US; suggesting an ongoing march towards an imagined future.

As the Ida Ely Rubin Artist in Residence at CAST in 2015-16, Baladi published a data visualization of online archive initiatives on the 2011 Egyptian revolution. The 2015-16 project and Anatomy of Revolution are the culmination of Baladi’s research Vox Populi, Tahrir Archives and a tribute to the 2011 Egyptian revolution and its impact on, and resonance with, the uprisings and sociopolitical movements that followed.

ABC: A Lesson in History (forthcoming 2022, Orbis Editions with Gato Negro) won Orbis Editions’ Cantabrigia award for an artist book in 2021.

The Anatomy of Revolution website is expected to have its soft online launch by the end of 2022.

Schedule

Past Events

Exhibitions

I AM WITH HER
Part of Lost in the Right Direction
December 4, 2021– January 9, 2022
ArtDesignLebanon,
Deir el Kalaa ruins, Beit Meri, Lebanon

Vox Populi, ABC: A Lesson in History (2020), Anatomy of Revolution
Part of The Protest and the Recuperation
Summer 2021
Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University
New York, NY
Read more on the ACT website

ABC: A Lesson in History
Part of Dear Truth: Documentary Strategies in Contemporary Photography
Spring 2021
Hasselblad Foundation
Gothenburg, Sweden

Anatomy of a Revolution
Part of Me, Family 
Video installation
Fall 2021
Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Collaborators

Lara Baladi is an Egyptian-Lebanese multidisciplinary artist, archivist, and educator. Her ongoing initiative Vox Populi: Tahrir Archives includes a series of media initiatives, artworks, publications, and an open-source timeline and portal into web-based archives of the 2011 Egyptian revolution and other global social movements.

Biography: Art, Culture, and Technology Program at MIT
Website: tahrirarchives.com (Presentations | Press)