Conceptual artist Zaid Al-Shurbaji wants you to steal his content; yes really

How a sense of helplessness amid Israel’s war on Gaza transformed into a collective impact project worldwide.

Steal my job
(Photos: Zaid Al-Shurbaji)
As Isreal’s war on Gaza rages on, awareness for the cause has taken form in art and activism, better known as artivism, and local artist Zaid Al-Shurbaji, a conceptual artist, also known as the ‘Beard Basha’ has taken artivism to another level with a sarcastic twist, that is meant to not only move emotions but for people also to replicate the art, as he urges people “steal my content.” اضافة اعلان

One of his pieces even went as far as becoming viral. In a creative twist on the tear-off flyer concept, a message reading "I support Israel" conceals a darker truth. As the flyer is torn off, it reveals a smudge of red on your fingers, accompanied by a poignant image of a baby victimized by the Israeli occupation – a daughter and her father in Gaza, their lives taken away. Shorbaji acknowledges that this artwork may not directly alter perspectives, but in an interview, he suggested that part of its impact lies in the potential to disrupt someone's day, especially those who endorse the occupation.

His tear-off concept prompted many to reshare as a reel, sometimes without putting the original artists, recreate their own to support the cause or, as in many efforts to dismay pro-Palestine efforts, a few Zionists joined as well.

In an interview with Jordan News Shurbaji expressed, "My main goal is to convey the feeling of dissatisfaction that we have all felt since the beginning of the war."

He added, "The idea of the reel was to create a movement. Thus, I added a link to the video, enabling anyone to print it. This is exactly what happened. After 48 hours of the reel being available for download, I started receiving calls worldwide. People were incredibly excited about it; many individuals reposted the video on various platforms. This overwhelming response has shown the power of digital media in connecting and mobilizing people globally.”

A deliberate approach
He continued, expressing his great joy, "One of the things I did intentionally was to not include translations into other languages. Consequently, people who saw my poster began to inquire about translating the sentences. They asked about the possibility of translating it into multiple languages. I often told them that they were welcome to do the translations themselves. This approach was deliberate. I aimed to let people feel they were contributing, even in a simple way.”

Taking his feelings of helplessness during this difficult period, he tried to give power back to people, even for a second, if they felt like they contributed to making awareness, they too, could feel part of a larger cause.

He added “Thus, being able to make people feel that they contributed to something was an immense pleasure for me. It transformed their sense of helplessness into a positive, proactive involvement, fostering a global sense of unity and support for the cause."

His reel reached over three million people, not to count the many who reposted it without attributing the artist originally, and the many replications, create conversations beyond the screen.

He emphasized, “The sheer number of reposts and conversations sparked by the video has exceeded my expectations, highlighting a collective desire for change and action."

And the efforts, collective, were not translated by Google Translate or Artificial Intelligence, but rather through the work of people who wanted to help.

 “I have always considered myself a storyteller, trying to break Instagram’s algorithms with my ideas. It's widely recognized that we are limited in publishing content. My efforts to break these limitations were not just after Gaza’s war; I have always been striving to disseminate my ideas freely and without any restrictions. This endeavor is not just about sharing a message; it is about fostering global understanding and empathy. By engaging people from diverse backgrounds, we create a tapestry of perspectives that enriches our collective knowledge and sensitivity towards pressing global matters."

The tear-off flyers, he added in some countries caused a huge uproar and its artists were ultimately detained. He added that this is what conceptual art is about. It is considered ideas, not works with meanings behind every piece. He added “It is not a tangible thing to be sold. It is an idea, and anyone can expand upon it. It can be both incomprehensible and publicly clear. On the contrary, it can be explained in greater detail. Conceptual art challenges our perceptions, inviting varied interpretations and diverse viewpoints, thereby enriching our understanding of art's limitless possibilities."

Steal my content
So Shurbaji encourages everyone hoping to join in on the cause, “Steal my content.” 

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