Platform for discussion005
How has a globalised cultural economy affected the production of contemporary visual culture in North Africa and the Middle East?
In the globalised world we live in, I feel that creating the image of an enemy becomes a difficult task. It becomes difficult to name and make symbols for an enemy – an abstract 'evil' – since things are never abstract, but always and at any time connected and related.
I last year photographed a very known Anti-American mural in downtown Tehran, one of many examples of visual propaganda culture in the public space of the city.
The mural shows a modified American flag and on top of the painting large letters read: DOWN WITH THE U.S.A. The changed iconography replaces flag stripes with falling bombs and stars replaced by skulls. Standing there, I realized that the colours of the mural had been recently repainted. The mural was so bright and colourful, as if its symbolic value needed a renewal.
My work Up and Down with the USA presents my photograph of this mural as a slide, yet the image is inserted upside down into the projector. Falling bombs become rising ones, the random nature inherent in the reversal of the image is opposed by the pathos of what is shown. By assigning a shifting significance to an existing propaganda image, Up and Down with the USA is trying to refer to a more authentic history between Iran and the United States: a history, that is one of many changing relationships, influences, dependencies and conflicts. The battle cry 'Down' is replaced by a fickle: 'Up and Down, Up and Down …'
What is the symbolic value again?
What is a platform?
A platform is a space for speaking in public. It is an opportunity to express ideas and thoughts. It also suggests the formal declaration of a stance or position on any given subject.
Unique to Ibraaz is a 'platform', a question put to writers, thinkers and artists about an issue relevant to the MENA region. This platform is sent to respondents both within and beyond the MENA region and contributions will be archived every 12 months.