Martin Obidat, grown up in Amman, Jordan, is an Aspiring Filmmaker and has been connected with many people from the scene for some years now. He believes in rebellion against the system and power of the community. In this interview, Martin talks about the structure of the scene and the struggles that nearly every artist in Amman has to face.

ARE THERE SPECIFIC TYPES OF PEOPLE FOUND IN THE ART SCENE OF AMMAN?
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE ART SCENE OF AMMAN?
WHAT DO THEY HAVE IN COMMON?

 

Seen from a Hip-Hop perspective, Amman’s Art scene includes 6 elements: Rap, Beatboxing, DJ, Skateboarding, Graffiti and Street Art, Breakdance and Performance. But all of this only started about 17 years ago.

There were people who tried to start the scene before but they were not successful. People who are the so-called ‘fathers’ of the revolution and who started the art scene in Amman. Some of them are still working on it, doing what they love and some of them gave up and are earning their money in different ways because they don’t benefit from it.

Because it’s really hard to be outside of the circle which is like work, getting married, having children, then dying. That’s how it usually goes in Jordan. When you see someone different who is doing different stuff, you will fight them. Not because you hate what they’re doing but because you don’t really understand what they are doing.

 

Amman is really tiny, everyone knows everyone. And there are people who are well known in this scene and you can easily find those people. Such as the brothers Abd Al Hadi and Anas Nahleh.

There are so many people who are doing different kinds of art. It’s a type of revolution that changed something in Jordan and that most people don’t understand because they’re not living in this kind of system. A constant change, a revolution, hope. It keeps growing, day after day.

You can see it everywhere, you can see people dancing, you can see people riding their boards, painting, singing, doing those kinds of things on the street. And you couldn’t see these kinds of things before because whenever someone did something, people would call the police and complain about it, only because they don’t understand it.

 

They have a way of fighting ordinary stereotypes. They have the courage to change and knowing what they really want from life. Breaking free from stereotypes that society and our parents gave us and that you were born into. Because this is the system and if you go outside of it, it’s gonna be scary for other people – you have to take a risk.

Fighting for freedom of speech, some people really don’t talk to their families because their families hate what they’re doing. ‘Why didn’t you become a doctor or an engineer, why don’t you have a normal job, and why are you an outsider?’ Because most of these people just moved those tags and are doing what they actually want without pressure from the society who tries to shape you. Now, they are just dealing with their own pressure.

How do artists deal with this conservative kingdom and no real freedom of opinion and speech?

Usually, the government never pays for the artists doing their art. But since the NGOs are more and more involved in Amman, they started to set up different events that include the street art team of Amman. Because the government is always afraid of the NGOs since they receive money from those, so they won’t say no to an event that was created and funded by e.g Unicef. Although this event includes topics that the government doesn’t care about, such as woman’s day.

What I love about the Art scene: people are willing to help each other. If we look at Amman now and 17 years ago – it’s colorful. Because we weren’t an open society before. We didn’t have the opportunity to be open-minded and to look at life from a different angle. Looking back, this time might seem short, but many things were accomplished during this period in Amman. In the Middle East, it’s really new and it keeps growing. If it didn’t grow, it would just die, like anything else. And I think what’s keeping it from dying are people keep fighting for it. Because as I told you there were people who tried to start it but they couldn’t and then stopped fighting.

And why is it important that the art scene continues?

Because this is what people are good at. If the scene died, they would die with it, they would rather die with it.

I see this as such a powerful thing that they can do. 90% of the Jordanian guys spend most of the money on their families and it’s not that they don’t like it but they just don’t have the chance to decide for themselves. Therefore, it’s really hard because generally, our financial situation for Jordanians is f*** up. So if I see something that I love and I could get money out of, while helping my family, helping my society, helping the people that I love – I just keep fighting for it. Even though it’s really hard to do such a thing.