Digitally Mediated Art in the War Zone: The Aesthetics of Resilience in Yemen

Author(s) Nurgul Oruc
Contact Nurgul Oruc, Qatar University, P.O. Box: 2713 Doha, Qatar. E-mail:
Issue CyberOrient, Vol. 14, Iss. 2, 2020, pp. 4-37
Published December 15, 2020
Type Article
Abstract The current civil war in Yemen has been largely ignored by mainstream media, with the majority of coverage spotlighting the military aspect of the conflict. Yemeni artists challenge this absence of narratives reflecting the suffering of thousands of Yemeni men, women, and children by exposing the actual situation to the outside world through various artifacts shared on digital media platforms. Despite the significance of contemplating creative endeavors in conflict zones and the burgeoning interest in cultural production both during and after the Arab Spring in the Middle East, contemporary Yemeni creative expressions have been largely neglected by scholars working on the Middle East. This article traces how Yemeni artists have intervened in the representation of the conflict and war in Yemen since 2011. It analyzes the heterogonous artistic forms, contents, and representational strategies that Yemeni artists and filmmakers have employed to express their collective concerns over war and destruction. The constraints and limitations imposed by the conflict have also shaped the creative expressions of Yemeni wartime artists, especially in terms of sharing their work both with their own communities and with the wider world. While their creative work manifests the suffering of a nation, it also constitutes a refusal to live under weakness and lack of hope for the future. The concepts of tactical and participatory media and socially engaged art are used to refer to the production and dissemination of a variety of creative responses to the ongoing crisis in Yemen, as illustrated through selected art media forms.
Keywords Yemen, digital activist art, street art, art and film in conflict zones, resilience through art, art and civic engagement, tactical and participatory media