London is a noisy place. Hence even the city’s “Free Syria” protestors have to be creative if they want their voices to be heard.
One medium where politics and art intersects is the flash mob.
As well as their weekly protest outside the Syrian Embassy, in the last few months anti-Assad protestors have popped up all over the city. In Westfield shopping centre, they were figures frozen with grief. When they turned up in Trafalgar Square, it was as the curators of a martyr’s gallery.
Earlier this week, it was the turn of SOAS. Protestors holding rebel flags formed a ring in a university common room. Then they dropped suddenly, as if dead. On cue, a screen on one wall flickered and the audience were confronted by the spectre of a little boy telling the story of how his parents were shot before his eyes
The whole performance lasted only a few minutes, but that was not the end of it – a video edit has since appeared online. Now the flash mob is book ended by provocative questions and vox pops. Mournful Arabic music and a timely clip of gunfire inject new drama into the moment when the protestors fall.
The organisers of the flash mobs may be political activists first, artists second. But it is the drama of protest – and the images and video that capture it – that has fuelled the Arab Spring.