Chicago-- Amir Normandi's photographs have been thrown into yet another exhibit controversy. During a current exhibit residents were offended when his photograph, titled True You, was placed in the window of the Pilsen Together Chamber of Commerce at Ashland Avenue and 18th Street. The photo, which depicts a nude woman holding a mirror and paint roller in front of her veiled face, was covered by chamber officials after receiving complaints and threats of violence.
The crowd of protestors were calmed after the organization covered the photograph. The 60 year old artist objected to the decision and removed his work from the gallery. However, he has since agreed to return his work which will be displayed in a less visible area. Normandi, a devout Muslim, feels that the protestors focused more on the nudity involved with the photograph instead of the meaning behind the piece. The artist views the incident as a misunderstanding concerning the meaning of his work, stating: "The interpretation is that the nude female is imprisoning the person who is covered up or the other way around,".
Sherry Rontos, the chamber's president, stated that the organization will hold a news conference in order to explain that they had to remove the photo due to violent threats from protestors. Rontos hopes to draw attention to the censorship they were forced to endure due to the reaction of the protestors while pointing out other social issues that are explored in the exhibit.
This is not the first time that Amir Normandi has sparked anger from viewers. In 2005 Muslim student groups were outraged over Normandi’s exhibit at Harper College. However, Normandi has stated that his work serves as a protest against the forced veiling of Muslim women. During that time Normandi stated, “there is no justification for the oppression of human beings by other human beings, let alone under the name of god. Human wisdom and passion has excelled to a level to create laws in protection of our environment and its inhabitants. It is unconscionable to accept the extreme gender inequality, which in many areas reaches the extent of gender apartheid, to be tolerated as traditional norms of life.”
You by Sarah Maple
Amir Normandi’s story reminds me of a similar situation facing the young British artist Sarah Maple at this time. I have interviewed Sarah Maple twice . Amir Normandi and Sarah Maple are from two very different generations, but they both offer social commentary that explores their faith and other issues within the context of contemporary society. It is unfortunate that they have endured such controversy due to misunderstanding and direct censorship.
Links of Interest:
Take care, Stay true,