Over the past years, the streets and buildings of Amman have witnessed a gradual rise in murals by artists expressing themselves with a spray can and a paintbrush out in the open, turning the city streets into public personal manifestations.  

Baladk Street Art Festival planted the seed of street art in the city back in 2013. Organised by Al Balad Theater, ‘Baladk’ or ‘Your Country’ is a street art festival that started in Amman with the aim to empower citizenship through different forms of street art, primarily murals.

Multiple murals, Baladk 6th edition, 2018

The 6th edition of Baladk kicked off at the beginning of May 2018, and brought in a wave of local as well as foreign artists from countries such as France, Sweden, Serbia and Germany. It was organized in partnership with the European Union National Institutes for Culture: EUNIC, Greater Amman Municipality, Tamasi Collective, AFD, Goethe Institute, Swedish Institute, Swedish Embassy, Montana Cans and National Paints.

Each year, the festival celebrates the bond between people and their environment through art by emphasizing universal concepts.

Suhaib Attar (right) Joana Arida (left), Baladk 6th edition, 2018

This year’s festival was under the theme ‘People’, giving artists the space to depict their relationships with the community around them and produce portraits of inspiring people they know. The theme explored the relationship between artists and their surrounding humans on the streets. Artists prepared sketches and drew murals inspired by the people around them where each graffiti artist produced a piece that reflected how they perceived the humans around them -their interactions with and appreciation of human life on abroad terms.

Another participant, Maha Hindi, also weighed in on this year’s theme. She said: “I found it very meaningful and close to the people, yet so general that it gave enough space for an artist to express their thoughts.” Artists were given the opportunity to depict how they perceive the people through a reflection of their art.

Baladk selected walls for the murals in various parts of Amman making sure that they were visible, accessible and in diverse neighborhoods of the city. The artists created 15 murals in locations such as Marj Al Hamam, Jabal Amman, Rabieh, Wadi Abdoun, Marka, Sweifieh, and Hashemi Al Shamali.

Baladk has created a collaborative platform where regional and international artists can share experiences and learn from one another. It’s an open call to all, offering aspiring graffiti artists the opportunity to work alongside ones with more experience.

Nadja Jevanovic, Baladk 6th edition, 2018, Jabal Amman

A local street artist and one of the organisers of the event, Wesam Shadid explained: “The festival opens doors for artists to showcase their work to a wider audience in public places. It also supplies artists with the necessities they need to fulfill and execute their visions.”

Dalal Mitwally, one muralist in Jabal Amman, shared with us the inspiration behind her work, saying, “When I think about creating a representation of our society, I think of the Arab woman straight away, for she is the whole structure.”

Phoepe Rosemann, Baladk 6th edition, 2018, Jabal Amman

The artist gave us some background on her piece by telling us that she specifically wanted to paint a woman who wears hijab, simply to represent the majority of our community. She can represent a loving mother, a caring friend, or even a kind third-grade teacher. “You can always relate to her because such a female has affected your life in one way or another,” Mitwally continued.

French artist and participant Lucie Legrand, created a strong female representation as well on one of the city’s buildings, merging cultural elements with a contemporary twist. She said: “I wanted to find a compromise between traditional influence and the modern visual.”  

Lucie Legrand, Baladk 6th edition, 2018

Moving on to Hashemi Al Shamali, where artist Dina Saadi’s mural “Reflections” is on display, she explains that her painting conveys our true reflection. Not the physical image in the mirror but the reflection of our souls.

Dina Saadi, Baladk 6th edition, 2018
Dina Saadi, Baladk 6th edition, 2018,

This festival brought together a group of artists and provided them with a platform to give the city a new public, artistic identity. The project aims to turn the streets into festive, colorful sites where people celebrate their existence and freedom from all kinds of oppression. The festival returned the streets to their rightful owners: the people of the city.

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All images courtesy of Baladk