Moataz Nasr’s art combines art and cultural activism to address pan-Arab issues, often using the language of global media and communications. Nasr’s Propaganda fabric appliqué and embroidered wall hangings re-present the design and content of United States’ propaganda leaflets, distributed over Iraq and its bordering nations prior to the beginning of the second Gulf War. This particular campaign of psychological warfare was mounted by the US in late 2002, encouraging resistance to Saddam Hussein and compliance with US troops once deployed. The US government reports on the activities of its PSYOPS (Psychological Operations) division, these flyers and the details of their distribution can be found at the website www.psywar.org.
Nasr’s re-use of the propaganda materials in his art constitutes a vehicle through which we can consider the use of language and image to violent ends, as well as the effects of indifference and ignorance. These messages are transformed through Nasr’s use of appliqué — a longstanding artistic practice in Egypt. The detailing of leatherwork with figurative appliqué and decorative stitching was considered one of the highest cultural forms in ancient Egypt, figuring in both cosmogony and mythology.