15 February 2007

Learning to See ... Muslims as People, for Instance

Lately, I seem to have attracted the attention of an especially obnoxious, "anonymous" commentator who finds it impossible to see Muslims as anything but terrorists, who repeatedly insinuates that, among world religions, Islam is somehow uniquely oppressive and violent, and who basically comports himself (I'd venture) like an ass. Rather than reply to any more of this insightful fellow's rants and personal attacks, I thought it might be more useful and edifying to post a couple of appropriate photographic replies.

From Self-Portrait (2003) © Tarek al-Ghoussein


From The Burqua Project 911 © Mansoora Hassan
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PS: Here is a brief comment on Mansoora Hassan's 'Burqua Project 911': "Photographer and visual artist Mansoora Hassan was born in Pakistan and lives in Egypt. She is a member of the board of directors for various American art institutions and has participated in more than fifty exhibitions all over the world. In her confrontational BURQA PROJECT 911 she combines icons of the Eastern and Western world. Hassan photographed herself in a burka in front of American monuments such as the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial and Ground Zero. The result is to be seen as a commentary on the dogmas of Islam, on retaining one's own identity in cosmopolitan cities and on the limitations on individual freedom in the context of the hunt on terrorists. At a more personal level the photographs deal with the mysterious aura of the burka, an item of clothing that enables someone to see without being seen. On the basis of THE BURQA PROJECT 911 Mansoora Hassan was interrogated by the FBI."

And here is a similar comment on Tarek al-Ghoussein's 'Self-Portrait': "Palestine is the Sisyphus of our time. As his punishment from the gods, this mythological figure had to spend eternity rolling a stone up a hill, only to always have it roll back down. In the opinion of Tarek Al-Ghoussein, the Western media's presentation of the Palestinians is similar. They likewise seem to be engaged in a meaningless and endless struggle, in which a stone is also central. In a series of self-portraits Al-Ghoussein critiques the cliché of the Palestinians that - particularly after September 11 - seems to be ineradicable in the Western media. In the style of Levis and Marlboro he creates an imaginary advertising campaign in which the image of the terrorist with a stone and headscarf functions as a logo for the Intifada. ... Al-Ghoussein ... spent some time in an Arab prison for the series of photographs he made of himself as a Palestinian terrorist, which illustrates that the myth is also increasingly being embraced by the Arab world."

I suppose it might be asking to much to assume that commentators be anything other than simplistically literal minded.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Ryan Anderson said...

another suggestion for your obnoxious commenter:

try reading. it really helps.

15 February, 2007 20:26  
Blogger Ryan Anderson said...

by the way jim,

man do i sympathize. i have gone around and around with people who just want to hang on to their stereotypes/beliefs. it's next to impossible to get some people to even glance at a position outside their own.

15 February, 2007 20:29  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Well, at this point I am just deleting his comments. Showing a high degree of class and moral acuity, this morning he decided to make comments aboutmy relaiton to my one year old son. Nice!

15 February, 2007 22:45  
Blogger Ryan Anderson said...

one of those eh? there isnt much else you can do but delete them. luckily there is such a thing as comment moderation, which does come in handy sometimes.

by the way, i have been reading your "compassion" paper and am enjoying it so far. you're talking a lot about some important issues there. as someone who started off in photography and is now in anthropology, i think there should be more and more of this kind of analysis and thought about images and how they are used. good stuff.

also, check out this link. it was made by the anthro dept at KSU, and is pretty interesting. see what you think.

15 February, 2007 23:44  
Blogger Stan B. said...

Sorry about the recent parasitic infestation. They attach themselves to others in the futile attempt to provide meaning to their own miserable lives.

16 February, 2007 12:20  

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