Mohammad Bin Lamin 43, Artist/Sculptor, Misrata From The Book: Shabab Altoura: Their Story By: Tracey Shelton

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Mohammad Bin Lamin 43, Artist/Sculptor, Misrata From The Book: Shabab Altoura: Their Story By: Tracey Shelton

On the night of February 20, 2011, Mohammad Bin Lamin knelt
before his captures. A black hood covered his head. He heard the
click as they loaded the gun and told him he was about to die.
“It was a horrible night,” was his only comment on the terror that
must have consumed him. He had been arrested along with his brother Habib on February 16, the night before anti-government protests broke out across the country. The Lamin family was well known for their anti-government stand. Mohammad had been active in denouncing the government and calling for protests on Facebook.

“The first step for the Gaddafi regime was to try to catch people who could be active in starting a revolution,” Mohammad said.
Police, led by Mohammad’s neighbor, a “notorious bad guy”, broke into the art gallery and workshop where Mohammad has spent more than a decade creating sculptures and paintings.
The brothers were taken to Abu Salim, the most notorious prison in Libya. The mock execution took place several days later.

Mohammad was born in 1969, the year Gaddafi took power.
“They told me I of all people should be grateful to Gaddafi for the country I was born in to,” Mohammad said. “I am the whole story of Gaddafi’s reign – my body, my soul can attest to his tyranny.” Mohammad survived the night and was returned to his tiny cell that he shared with his brother.

Prisoners were only allowed out of their cells for interrogation.
Desperate for a creative outlet Mohammad began sculpting his
aluminum food trays into portraits of fellow inmates and jailers, and using them as pens to draw on his cell walls. Mohammad said he was confronted about his drawings several times but mostly they were too busy to notice.

“Some were Ok, but most of them were not human. Especially when they had bad news about a Thuwar [revolutionary] advance. They would open the cells and start kicking and beating us. Other times we would hear NATO bombing outside and cry ‘Allah Akbar’ – God is greatest – so they would punish us.” News slowly filtered in through new prisoners. Whispered messages were passed from cell to cell.
“We heard the noises of war around us. We were sure Tripoli would fall but we did not know what our fate would be. Would they kill us all? Would the rebels reach us in time?”
On August 23, more than six months after Mohammad’s arrest, the guards fled Abu Salim. The following day, the rebels arrived.
“We heard the cry of Allah Akbar so we knew it was real,” Mohammad recalled.

The following day, Mohammad was reunited to his family who had for 6 months feared he had already been executed. After a decade of trying to have children Mohammad found himself reunited with a very pregnant wife. She had discovered her pregnancy shortly after Mohammad’s arrest.

On October 8, the week before Gaddafi’s capture and death she
gave birth to twin girls. “My daughters are a gift from God, my treatment for all my pain. When I look into their eyes I can forget all things.”

Mohammad now makes artwork from remnants of war, sculpting
objects designed to kill into symbols of love and beauty.









1- Abu Salim Prison
“I shared this cell with my brother. I used our aluminuim food containers as pencils to draw on the walls. When I ran out of
space I remember wishing they’d change my cell so I would have more space to draw,” Mohammad Bin Lamin

2- “I drew the prison cell surrounded
by flowers as a symbol of hope.
When the guards looked through
the window of our cell door they
would see this image. I wanted them
to know that I am not sad, but it was
an honor to be here for Libya,”
Mohammad Bin Lamin.

3- “Sculpting from remnants of war is about
transforming something created to kill into
something of beauty – a symbol of love,
dance, humanity,”
Mohammad Bin Lamin
This piece shows the cross section of a 14.5mm anti aircraft
bullet. The crystal is from the Libyan dessert.

4- Soldiers
This piece is called the collapse of the
genocide battalions. It represents Gaddafi’s
troops as they were defeated by the
revolutionaries,” Mohammad Bin Lamin

5- The pieces are not rigid and Mohammad
spends hours rearranging each piece to
create different scenes.

6- “I like to incorporate objects of Libyan history in my work. For this piece I used an ancient stone from the Southern Libyan desert,”
Mohammad Bin Lamin

7- “This is part of a series that represents the Libyan
rebel fighters. In this piece you see a fighter
facing amputation,” Mohammad Bin Lamin

8- “I call this series Dance in Angelical Orbit,” Mohammad Bin Lamin

9- “This series represents the bond
between a mother and child
and the way a mother will
protect her children from
danger in any crisis,”
Mohammad Bin Lamin

10-Faces of War
“This is part of a Beretta gun that was struck
by NATO in a store house for Gaddafi’s men.
I liked the face that appeared in the ruins,”
Mohammad Bin Lamin

11- “This is part of a Beretta gun
that was struck by NATO in a
store house for Gaddafi’s men.
I liked the face that appeared
in the ruins,”
Mohammad Bin Lamin

12- “My daughters are a gift from
God, my treatment for all my
pain. When I look into their
eyes I can forget all things,”
Mohammad Bin Lamin

A tale of a Libyan artist

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A tale of a Libyan artist

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Mohammad bin Lamin used art to survive his time in prison before he was set free after the revolution.

Al Jazeera talks to Libyan artist Mohammad bin Lamin who used art to survive his time in prison before the country’s revolution.

From drawing on his prison cell walls with whatever he could find to his post-revolutionary art including sculptures made from used bullets and shells, bin Lamin hopes his art will offer a spiritual answer for the daily oppression around the world.

The Three Eras for a dream

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(The Three Eras for a dream)
Poem and Artworks By: Mohammad Bin Lamin.
Translated from Arabic by: Solara Sabah.

1. The Amulet Time

His blue Amulet did not save him from the act of the sea,
neither did the white one.
They did not soothed him from the flares of
the land.

They did not stop the temptation of the waves
and the curse of whiteness or cured him from the sun’s ailments.

He was saved by the worries of the mothers who were
lingering near the oven to steal from it the mercy of the bread.
Or maybe he was saved by the mother’s supplications in the half darkness
behind the spindle of the wool’s mats,
praying to God to safeguard him
from the Beasts of the darkness,
the evil eyes, and the ferocity of the envy.

2. The Solitude Time

And you’re a very obdurate!
You have never been bind by phylactery or by Fakih’s mantra
you saved your steps
for the mint fragrance road and the accompaniment clouds.
Holding back your right hand
to greet the person of your dream,
To embrace the surface of the water,
Promising your heart to meet the spring and the temptation of the daffodils,

Rolling your eyes inside,
Laughing and crying.
Lighting the daytime by the sun,
Dripping the stars in the night,
and dangling from the moon!

Obstinately in love.
Your dream has taken by your pride
Descending into the illusion that one day it will come
with a dark eyes
elegant and tall
with a small bird hovering on the head.
Dancing and asking for the mercy.
The dance of the slaughterous
The mercy of the dust,
A resurgence of desperate love!

3. The Exudes Time

Hold on tight to your luggage!
You have to endorse your travel,
the nudge of the stations,
The noisiness of the railroads crossings;
and the dreariness of the passages and the tunnels.

Flying and sailing.
Mingling with foreign seaports,
The dead dreams and the glasses of wanderers wine.

Dancers floating in the drum of the water.
The first lament for the homeland
lurking from under the feet.

Where ever you go the land looks the same.
Strange as it should be,
You will never be familiar with this existing world.

you will be welcomed by the uncertainty of the empty rooms,
the shared houses,
the dispirited parks
And the ugly elderly women
The owners of the homes who will prohibited you from being late at night.

Just be as you are
lost between the distractions of the eyes and the lust of the dreams.

poor fellow as in the prayer.
Knight at the wedding extravaganza.
Taken by different visions,
and the fluctuated news.

Slaughtered by friends knifes
and deceived by the wooden rifles
How will you enjoy the night
As they do each day?
And how the moon complains of its nostalgia for the beautiful face?

You are doomed!
consumed by the time
as a coffee drunk in a hurry .
Blown by the wind as a nuisance Southern dust,
that will never whisk off by the country broom

Wake up and go on!

Your cold hands and these doors cannot endure the knocking,
neither the ceiling and the walls,

Forsake this dream of yours
and leave as those who left before you,
No need for the blame
Just wait with patience and eternal gaze.

la storia siamo noi

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la storia siamo noi

(l’arte di Mohammad Bin Lamin, testimone della storia drammatica del suo popolo e capace di trasformare gli strumenti della guerra in immagini di pace. Un artista che ha sempre promosso la pace, la convivenza e il rispetto.) Silvia Casilli.

(the art of Mohammad Bin Lamin, witness the dramatic story of his people and capable of transforming the tools of war in peace images. An artist who has always promoted peace, co-existence and respect.)

From: Rai Educational – ITALY
Mohammad Bin Lamin

I fantasmi della nuova Libia
La Libia festeggia l’anniversario dell’inizio della Rivoluzione che ha sconfitto Gheddafi. Il Paese ha conquistato la libertà, ma non ancora la democrazia. Un viaggio attraverso i fantasmi di questa difficile fase di transizione.

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The Power of Mohammad Bin Lamin’s Art and The Libyan Revolution

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By Hego Goevert

Anyone who says you can’t see a thought simply doesn’t know art (Wynetka Ann Reynolds) 

Can art be subversive? Oh, yes, it can! And there is no better evidence for this statement than the art of Mohammad Bin Lamin.Let me come right to the point:

Mohammad Bin Lamin’s art is unique. It cannot be categorized. And, of course, it eludes the control of any authority. His art clearly contributed to the outbreak of the Libyan revolution. He is one of those artists, writers, intellectuals who prepared the ground.

If you are able to ‘read’ paintings, you simply have to have a look at his 2007 series ‘Figures’ which depicts the pre-revolutionary atmosphere in Libya. Figures – painted on a unique blue background – in yellow, red, white, brown, wildly moving, dancing, and whirling around like some sort of mystical dervishes. The series expresses the irrepressible passion, the individual desire for freedom. Later, in his New Media series, Bin Lamin takes a closer look at the people’s faces and you can see grim, wrath. He also started to paint groups of people as if there would be a secret gathering going on…

When I got the news of his detention I immediately implemented various actions – together with my fellow artists of the internationally acclaimed MIRCA ART GROUP. We implemented actions as we had done before in aid of the release of Burma’s (Myanmar’s) Aung San Suu Kyi and China’s Ai Weiwei. Now one of our fellow members, Mohammad Bin Lamin, had been arrested and for unbearable 6 months we did not know if he was still alive.We felt more than a great relief and joy when we got the news that our friend had been freed from the detention in the infamous Abu- Salim-prison. This was a kind of victory for all of us!

Of course, Mohammad Bin Lamin’s art has changed since the end of the revolution. I think, it’s quite typical for him, that he started doing a captivating series called ‘Sculptures of War’, showing impressive sculptures made of bullet casings, in which he comforts and encourages the amputees of the revolution (“Life can be joyful and rewarding again!”). Only after doing this series he started to overcome his own trauma by doing the amazing ‘Torture of Tintalos’ series.

I do not think that anyone of us can imagine what Mohammad Bin Lamin has gone through during his detention – knowing that his wife was pregnant. I was so touched when she finally gave birth to
two lovely girls, his daughters Takbeer & Tahleel. May they reap in their lives what their father and the other heroes of the revolution sowed!.

I am so proud of being called Mohammad’s FRIEND. It is an honour to be friend with someone who stood up for the freedom of the individual, for the freedom of speech and art, for the dignity of man and for social justice. Though deeply rooted in the great culture of Libya, Mohammad Bin Lamin is a ‘global citizen’. I
cannot think of any better cultural ambassador for Libya!.


Some of the places where Hego’s Artwork was displayed:

Cologne (Germany, Kalshof, “Cologne meets New York” Group Exhibition) 2011; New York
(USA, Skylight Gallery NYC, “Gestalt- German artists in Conversation” Group Exhibition)
2011; Cape Town (South Africa, Belinda Anvil- The Rainbow Experience Gallery- “Freedom and Art”-
Project/Travelling Exhibition) 2010 and the list goes on…

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