MRWN - the art of Marwen Ben Cheikh

5am Bab El Falla, the ancient souk district of central Tunis. A solitary figure dressed in white moves through the narrow streets illuminated by the blue, yellow and orange light of dawn. Vendors are setting up their stalls among the otherwise empty laneways that create a mosaic like the intricately tiled floor of the nearby Mosquée bab El-Fella. The man is of this place, aware of it's history, culture and customs. But he is seeking a future, a future that can't be seen, but is defined by the search for justice, equal rights and creative freedom. A metamorphosis begins.

So begins MOVE_, the latest film from Marwen Ben Cheikh (MRWN), a film that is the culmination of several years of creative experimentation into a granular rather than a linear approach to communicating his anger against the systems that imprison us.

10 years after the Tunisian Revolution (which was in part a trigger for the Arab Spring) the streets of Tunis are still alive with dissent. The issues of poverty, Government oppression and police brutality have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. There is no work, people can't afford to buy food and there in no Government stimulus to help. Heavy handed police response has led to an identification with the global Black Lives Matter movement.

Drawing inspiration from MOVE, a black militant, green anarchist group founded in 1972 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by John Africa, MRWN finds parallels in the horrific bombing by Philadelphia police of a MOVE inhabited building in which 11 people died and sixty-five houses in the neighbourhood were destroyed. The mantra of the group was to keep moving. To stand still is to die.

Originally destined for a career in medicine MRWN pursued his passion for music in the immediacy of the punk, metal and garage sounds of his youth. He began to develop an interest in how music is constructed and it's effect on the human body and spirit. He studied at the Higher Insititute for Multimedia Arts in Tunis majoring in Cinema and Audiovisual studies before moving to Berlin to further study Audio Engineering at SAE Institute. It was in Berlin and exposure to the art scene there that he started to develop a polyartist approach to creativity embracing painting, photography, cinema and music either alone or in collectives. Returning to Tunis he started working on the MOVE project which continues with the exploration of subjugation of the self to the service of the cause.

The great Afro-American poet Gil Scott-Heron said in the lyrics to Delta Man “We say that since change is inevitable, we should direct the change. Rather than simply continue to go through the change...

Through his art MRWN inspires us all to MOVE, to keep pushing forward in the quest for not only equal rights and justice but creative freedom. The anonymous waves White Page Gallery invites you to join him on his journey.







MRWN logo by Zohra Mrad

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