UK based Visual artists Mohammad Hamza , creator of “Intifada Street”, talks to I Am HIp-Hop magazine about political art.
Q. Hello Mohammad, tell us something about your background?
Who am I? I’m a product of 36 years on this earth and as Tupac once said, “this is my report”. I never considered myself a citizen of any nation though I am born and bread in England. A global citizen would be the best description of how I see myself. I am third generation here born to parents of Pakistani origin from a city in Punjab called Gujarkhan. My grandfather was my hero he came to these shores in the late 50’s. He as an immigrant suffered much mistreatment but managed to find work in the textile mills of Bradford, the city in which I reside. His life was deeply inspirational to me and I truly believe his struggles inspired my revolutionary spirit.
Q. What inspired you to become an artist?
Inspiration is found in far out places as well as near. I always had an artistic expression in me that needed to be explored if not for anything else but to maintain my own sanity. It just happened that I always was socially and politically aware from a young age. The only difference now is I can vent my position on so many issues through my art rather than the frustration of banging my head on a wall. It’s important we engage with others and artistic exposure allows one to do that. It’s a way of communicating a thousand words with one piece. My first love always has been the unspoken word but as time developed I realised the visual expression of art allows one to reach an audience far easier. So a couple years ago I put my efforts into a project “Intifada Street” to open this conversation. Intifada means “uprising” and since I have always been a rebel but one with a cause it made perfect sense to go with that name.
Q. Why is political art so important to you?
It’s important to me as it allows one to reach so many, plus it pays relevance to a debate without violence. I don’t claim to be a pacifist because I respect the rights of all people to resist oppression but I don’t have to be violently disagreeable when I have other means. That said there is a rich tradition of “revolutionary art” as I like to call it. The advantage is endless because to me it opens debate, and if my art serves that purpose then it can only be a good thing.
Q. You write poetry, can you tell us about that form of expression?
Poetry is my first love. To engage with the metaphysics is amazing and that spiritual universal approach is what connects us all, I feel. The poets that inspired me are stretched in the four corners of the world. In most cases these people were dissidents in their time. They spoke truth to power when it was far easier to serve it than to make a stance against its vices. Yet these great revolutionaries lost much but remained steadfast in their observations and criticisms of the ruling elitists. To me that is the most commendable thing we can do in our life, so in that same tradition I have been inspired and hope to fulfill the same purpose. What people take from it or don’t is not my concern that’s their undeniable right. All I know is I got to do something. I cannot sit in silence while the mass of the people suffer, home and abroad. It is in my DNA I suppose to resist oppression wherever it raises its ugly head. The difference between some others and me is I take that responsibility very seriously. Here’s a piece I wrote a few years back, I hope it allows you to better understand my thought process.
Q. What are your future plans?
It’s hard to say. The future is the great unknown I have no assurance of anything good coming of my life. Mainly because I feel guilt, I feel the need to punish myself for not doing enough. I hope for my art to be used in a positive way, to raise awareness as a minimum however more importantly to me is to get people to act upon what they already know and that is life without dignity, justice and freedom. How can we aimlessly watch the misery of others and do nothing?! It is not ok to do so and until we take it personally, things will remain the same. I want my life to count, to amount to something. To love that which I can never lose.
Viva la Revolution
These blood stained clothes… These blood stained clothes?! They a result of being horrifically exposed, my brother has been shot dead , A bullet from the oppressors gun went straight into his head. In my desperation I pulled him to the side In the hope he’d be saved and somehow survive but there is no chance of that he’s another victim of a continuing crime I reach. Home put my hand to the door , my hand is trembling with the thought , my mother she loves us both but she had told me that we should go . She said: “You were born FREE, Every ounce of You is to serve your peeps” but how can I tell her that he’s not coming back? The ultimate price paid for knowing that she raced to the front of the house, seeing me alone she already knew he had gone.
I didn’t know what to expect I didn’t have the heart in me to see into her eyes with my head bowed I cried, she pulled me to her and held me close . I muttered out the words of someone who knows loss ”I‑I-I’m sorry I couldn’t protect him umi!” After a moment the silence broke , she uttered the words, a woman of strength spoke “The Lord gave me two sons, if I had any more they’d serve the same purpose– I know he’s gone but my love for him will never diminish, he’s with those that die, but don’t die, he will live long after you and I have passed-by.” I know of a heart when it gets broken but this moment I will never grow to forget , It’s like my heart was removed from my chest. My little ‘ brother the one i’d swore always to protect without him I feel so lost . That night I cried myself to sleep , the pain emancipated sets you free . What else can they do to me? The next day I woke up , I hoped it could be all undone. I wish it was for me the soldier had aimed his gun , I looked up into the cloudless blue sky, the sun at it’s highest point is so bright. I felt so overcome on the events of last night but tonight I will protest yet again, My brothers death is a martyrdom Thousands with us will also join We will bring the devil and his agents down From the throne they sit on Life indeed carries on The world revolves around and stops for no one So in that very same way Our revolution is here today And come tomorrow, it will still stay… (Memoirs of a Revolutionary – Hamza )
For more information please visit: http://www.intifadastreet.com/
By Aimee Valinski