Thursday, October 16, 2008

Amir Normandi: Controversy or Misunderstanding?

True You by Amir Normandi

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,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor


Anonymous said...

Thanks for making a stand for both of these artists. Sarah Maple IS the next Tracey Emin.

Donald Frazell said...

Maple has no faith, she is using Islam for her own agrandizement. My wife who was raised in Islam but far from it now, was offended, this girl is completely self absorbed. And is being used to entertain the obscenely rich, as only Saatchi knows how to do. She is jsut another art school brat who is being produced, as music producers find their lastest fresh meat, then toss when done with.

She has absolutley NO ideas about Islam. Like no one has asked incisive quetions about it over its 1,400 years. reatarded. And you know it will sell. Disgusting.
As well as weak, lame, and not art at all. Her complete lack of knowledge about Islam is not excuse to use it for her own marketing. Brat. But sure makes pseudo liberal artistes happy.

Donald Frazell said...

And msot Muslime women WANT to dress in traditonal garb, whihc has been proven in turkey with the election of a Islamist government. It is not up to us in the /West to put our values on others, that is what bush has been doing. we got our own issues, and are completely hypocritical to put our self absorbed, rotten values on others. live and let live. And appreciate the differences in humanity. THATS art, this is childish propoganda for a self absorbed life style. God is not included. 90% of humanity needs god, we need to start addressing this basic fundamentl truth of humanity, instead of this spoiled above it all attitude. And why art is now meaningless.

Balhatain said...

Donald, I'm starting to think that 99% of all artists are "brats" to you. :P

Donald Frazell said...

Currently successful ones, yeah, they are. And as i am old enough to be most of their fathers, I know the difference between good respectful kids and ignorant brats. She is a BIP, a British Islamic Princess, and if she was so curious about Islam, why doesnt she just pick up a Quran and ask some people who know?

She is a spoiled exhibitionist, pure and simple.