Arab Girls Wearing Arab Nationalism tote

Arab Girls Wearing Arab Nationalism tote


Originally commissioned for follow the halo issue #6, this piece is titled “Arab Girls Wearing Arab Nationalism” by Egyptian collage artist Beya Khalifa. The work is carefully printed on a delicate canvas tote. All proceeds from this purchase to go Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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About the artwork:

This piece is by Egyptian, Cairo-based artist Beya Khalifa. Beya creates otherworldly collages that juxtapose our universe with vintage imagery typical of the 50s and 60s - her work is striking and delightful all at once. Like many of our commissions, we gave Beya the freedom to create whatever she wanted, using our platform as her canvas. A few months later, Beya creates a piece that painfully timely. Titled "Arab Girls Wearing Arab Nationalism", the piece positions Arab women at the forefront of Masjid Al Aqsa - a forever symbol of Arab Nationalism - while 'blooming'. In her own words, Beya explains the inspiration behind her work: 

"So I started making the piece the day I heard about the arrest of Amal Fathy here in Egypt a few weeks ago. She had experienced an unfortunate series of events, including being sexually harassed twice in a day (a fate many women have to grapple with on a daily basis in Egypt). In her frustration, she posted a video on Facebook, venting and expressing her anger with what women are forced to confront when going about even the most menial of tasks. A day later, she and her family were detained. Her husband and son were let go, while she was arrested and put in prison. News like this isn’t uncommon in Egypt, and while it speaks not only to a culture embedded with misogyny, but a political facet as well, the instant defeat and acceptance we received the news with was a letdown. At the time, I was also reading a book on the revolution and had gotten to a chapter on what women recounting their experiences at the time. One of the most harrowing things to happen was the forced virginity tests the Armed Forces conducted on protestors camped out in Tahrir square." 

Beya continues by adding:

"Reading about it was suffocating - I can’t begin to imagine what living it was like. I just wanted to make something that could distill and convey the courage and resilience of women in the face of such horror; something to say, “we will not be razed to the ground. We will bloom and thrive and reach for the sun.”

Although Beya doesn't explicitly reference Palestine in the piece, the idea that all women of the region - regardless of their national identity - have been through harrowing experiences and continue to bloom regardless, is the sentiment of this piece and this issue. 

To follow Beya's work and learn more about her, you can follow her on instagram @beyakhalifa

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