Published ······ Online, Apr 2013
Section ······· Art & Design
As an artist working and living in Canada, my work deals with issues of transcultural identity. In this series, I have created a denim thobe (an ankle-length garment, usually with long sleeves, similar to a robe) creating a Canadian version of a traditional Arab garment.
By performing in the thobe in front of my camera, I have integrated my Eastern self with my Western self. When considering the individuals identity, we consider and factor in the geographic location, nationality, gender, sexuality, political and religious views as well as the physical appearance. I aspire to move away from any form of marginalisation and discrimination towards one another, and accept that no one can be stereotyped or predicted.
This is a personal journey that draws from moments in my life when I was viewed as an outsider and stereotypes were projected on to me. The photographs and seven-minute video are small moments that represent broader issues of migration difference and the politics of the “other.”
What does it mean to live within a duality of identities – as an Arab, as a Canadian in a collision of cultural values? These questions have been integral to the thought-process during the creation of this work. I have experienced life in both worlds as I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia to Palestinian parents, and moved to Canada as a teenager. I have always thought of myself as a Westerner living in an Eastern land before moving to Canada. Since moving to Canada, I have been made to feel like an outsider. I have considered the fact that I am an Arab male living in the post 9/11 world … feeling that my demographic has been given the unfair advantage of being viewed as potentially ‘harmful’ to society. In the public sphere it is understandable to use signifiers to identify the individual based on very little information, resulting in stereotypes. We tend to look at skin colour, clothing and behaviour to identify the individual. We do this without feeling the need to communicate with the individual. I have created a visual narrative with the use of still and moving images that hopes to question these hidden assumptions and alludes to the broader issues of migration, globalisation and displacement.