AMMAN – Renowned Jordanian Urban and Street Art Festival Baladk returned in October for its 8th edition. In many ways, this iteration showcased the festival in a new light as event organisers Al Balad Theater faced many challenges along the way. Art is Environment and Environment is Art was fully was a locally immersed rendition of the annual festival. Originally scheduled to take place in Spring, the festival -just like the rest of the world- was affected by an unprecedented pandemic. This led the organizing team to step up to the challenge and respond to the global health situation. 

In the first half of the year, Baladk announced its new theme Art is Environment and Environment is Art as well as its first ever online iteration. #BaladkFromHome was an invitation for all muralists and artists from across the world to use their backyards, gardens and own neighbourhoods to participate in the annual festival under the new theme.

Moving the festival online was also an opportunity to invite renowned Italian street artist Millo as a guest speaker to the festival’s online program. Millo delivered a talk and spoke with local aspiring artists about his journey, the challenges he faced along the way and shared his thoughts on Baladk’s theme. This event proved crucial as it provided Jordanian talents the chance to connect with internationally top-rated street artists, an element not foreign to Baladk’s previous editions. Though due to travel constraints, the 8th edition of Baladk consisted purely of local and home-grown talents.

Leading up to the festival’s physical iteration were a series of specialty workshops and sessions led by local experts. In a 2-day session, local artists were invited for an intensive workshop with experienced artists Wesam Shadid and Yazan Mesmar to delve into conversations revolving around this year’s theme. The session attendees were mentored by the experts and together finalised sketches that were eventually turned into murals in October. Another specialty workshop led by Jordanian talent Suhaib Attar covered the various techniques and tricks artists can use to upscale their sketches onto big walls.

In October, the festival popped up in three different zones around the Jordanian capital. The first consisted of Al Hashimi Al Shamali, Jabal Al Qalaa and Marka areas where 11 murals were created. The second zone consisted of Al Qeissieh, Al Rabieh, Sweifieh and Marj Al Hamam areas where another 6 new murals stand tall. The third zone at the Rasheed Tlei’ School housed a free mural for all artists to create on.

All in all, Baladk’s Art is Environment and Environment is Art generated an impressive 18 murals spread across three different zones around Amman. With 17 local artists raising awareness on environmental changes and waste management, the 18 murals stand as strong reminders for the local communities to take care of the Earth.

Featured artists:

Abed Riyadh, Aws Abu Salah, Chafie, Dina Aqel, Ibrahim Tonnerieux, Jude Khatib, Maha Hindi, Paola Farran, Sedeeq Abu Ghoush, Siner, Suha Sultan, Suhaib Attar, Wesam Shadid, Yamen Hattab, Yazan Bahar and Yazan Mesmar.

Header image: artwork by Zytoun.