Arab American art as Resistance Arab American News
DEARBORN - Jacqueline Salloum and Yusef Namy's artwork seeks to resist stereotypes of Arab terrorist men and oppressed women propagated by the media. At an event at the University of Michigan-Dearborn this past week, the two local artists showed their work and discussed how it responds, resists, and rescripts dominant stereotypes of Arabs in U.S. culture.
Salloum showed several of her short films. A Palestinian/Syrian-American multi media artist and filmmaker, she has widely exhibited her work both nationally and internationally in art galleries, museums and film festivals from New York to Europe and the Middle East. Her most recent artwork focuses on challenging the stereotypes of Arabs in film and media through collage, toys, gumball machines and film. One of her films that takes on this theme is "Planet of the Arabs," which was recently awarded "Best Editor" at the Cinematexas film festival and was selected to be in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, which she showed at this event.
Salloum is currently working on her new documentary film, "SlingShot Hip-Hop: The Palestinian Lyrical Front," which chronicles the lives of rappers living in Gaza, the West Bank and in Israel. It aims to spotlight alternative voices of resistance within the Palestinian struggle and explore the role their music plays within their social, political and personal lives. The audience viewed a clip from this upcoming work as well.
Salloum also had two of the toys she has created for the audience to view. One was a commercially produced and packaged Caterpillar bulldozer called "Caterrorpillar." Looking like the real thing, this bulldozer and its packaging, however, spelled out how useful the item was for terrorizing the Palestinian population. She has done the same thing with an Apache helicopter and with gumball machines.
Salloum said she believes using items and approaches that westerners are familiar with, like hip-hop and toys, is a more effective way of getting the Palestinian message across.
Salloum received her MFA in Studio Art from New York University and BFA in Graphic Design and Photography from Eastern Michigan University.
Yusef Namy is a multi-media artist who seeks to promote and empower a cultural image deserving of his Arab heritage. By appropriating images from a culturally insensitive and illiterate media, he attempts to create a consciousness of a people that is all too often misunderstood and misrepresented. His expressions are related through exploiting the digital medium from which many of these stereotypes are propagated. However, his art is not only a means to educate those who are denied exposure to a true Arab image, but serves also to clarify his own identity, as well as inspire self-awareness for others. Various works of his have been exhibited in
galleries, classrooms, and festivals across the country, most recently including a permanent instillation on Arab stereotypes and discriminations, to be incorporated within the Arab American National Museum.
This night he previewed the design of his installation on Stereotypes and Discrimination which will be part of the National Arab American Museum's permanent collection in Detroit. The museum is opening in May. A 9 x 12 room in the museum will be filled with still and digital images that will collage into a message of what the stereotypes are and how they affect Arab
Namy graduated from the University of Michigan School of Art with a BFA focusing on media techonologies. He is based in a studio with a collective of artists in Hamtramck. Examples of his visual diatribes can be viewed on the web at www.olivetones.com.
This event was sponsored by the Center for Arab American Studies.
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2/25/2005; Siblani, M. Kay