The Evolution of a Revolution
Farah Montasser, Tuesday 15 Mar 2011
The Evolution of a Revolution, a sculpture showcasing how social networking evolved into the people's revolution. Sculptor Adam Reeder speaks to Ahram Online

Since the beginning of the Egyptian revolution of 25th January, the world has seen a number of artworks by international artists in the fields of music, arts and sculpture. These portray the fight, the will and the courage of the Egyptian people.

Stealing a look at a unique piece entitled, ‘Evolution of a Revolution’, Ahram Online goes one-on-one with Adam Reeder, the mastermind behind this revolutionised, ancient Egyptian sculpture.

A universal language

For centuries artists have agreed that art, by any means, is a universal language and that some of the greatest artwork has inspired revolutions; but according to Reeder, in Egypt’s case, it was the revolution that inspired the art.

“I think in this case art is a better journal than a motivator, helping people to remember that the revolution actually happened, and how and why it happened,” Reeder explains.

Obtaining a Masters in Sculpture from the Academy of Art in San Francisco, the young Californian sculptor has always focused on how technology has changed the western culture’s interactions with its world.

Cultures will remain independent

Among his famous sculptures are the gods Zeus with an I-Phone in his hand and Pan holding an I-Pod. “I used to think that any culture finding itself being changed by technology was becoming western,” he admits, “Now I see that I was wrong.I can see that technology will eventually change the way all cultures interact with their world, and those cultures will remain independent. I hope to continue keeping a record of this change andI hope my work continues to resonate with people, because it is about their experience of the world,” he maintains.

It was the revolutions that have swept across the Middle East and North Africa that changed Reeder’s opinion and his piece, and ‘Evolution of a Revolution’ clarifies that.

Though he has never been to Egypt and his only knowledge about the Egyptian people has never gone beyond his undergraduate and graduate studies, which included sculptures of the ancient Egyptians, Reeder was inspired by the powerful and motivating artwork of the people throughout the 18 days of the revolution.

We will not give up

“I guess most of my knowledge about Egypt comes from its ancient art,” he says, “Now I have seen posters reading, “Egypt will rise”, which I found stirring, andone of the most compelling artworks I saw was a message written in black letters, “WE WILL NOT GIVE UP!”

With those words from the demonstrations, Reeder produced ‘Evolution of a Revolution’; a hieroglyphic artwork that symbolises a moving social commentary on how technology has influenced revolutions in countries with oppressive governments, such as, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Jordan and Morocco.

As part of his theme ‘Technology Changes The Way People Interact With Their World’, in his piece, Reeder portrays ancient Egyptian figures, holding the modern means of communication, including cell phones and a laptop. With ‘Evolution of a Revolution’, Reeder also represents the social networking sites of Twitter and Facebook used by those two figures; the means that enabled people to unite and revolt.

Women fighting for their freedom

An interesting observation in this piece is that Reeder has joined a female figure communicating with a male. The female here is important to Reeder, as he sees how the social networks enabled the oppressed women of the Middle East and North Africa to share their views and fight for their freedom, as equals with the dominant male figure. Reeder says, “ Women were able to play such an important role in these revolutions through social media and technology.”

Reeder has provided a delightful memory of the Egyptian revolution but he is not planning to capture the current scene in Egypt. “I see my role as one who chronicles the ways technology changes how we interact with our world,” he explains. “I think when the dust settles and Egypt has what it wants, I will make more art about it.For now, I have said what needs to be said, like a journal entry about a very good day,” he asserts.

He recognises the importance of technology in shaping our history today. “My artwork has to be about a technology that has effected a major social change,” he says, “If more technology comes along that is as powerful as Apple, Android, Google, Facebook, Twitter or video games, then I will make art that addresses that change in interaction.”

Standing up to injustice

Reeder wants to send Egyptians a message saying, “I am proud of the Egyptians for standing up to injustice, I hope they get whatever government they choose andcontinue to stand up for any ideas that “the people” want.”

He calls on his fellow Americans to stay as strong as the Egyptians saying,“I hope the US will be as strongwhen the votes of a “free people” no longer matter. Courage is required.”

The ‘Evolution of a Revolution’ shows how Tunisians and Egyptians have revolutionised their fight for freedom. Artists of the world have been inspired by that and wait as Egyptians shape their future and destiny.