The Burqa Project

On The Borders Of My Dreams I Encountered My Double's Ghost

The Burqa Project: On the Borders of My Dreams I encountered My Double's Ghost
was created several months after the New York City attacks of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Four flags from four leading industrial nations, The United States of America, The United Kingdom/Great Britain, France, Germany, are used as the basis for replicating the Afghanistan hijab known as The Burqa (also spelled Burka). 

This project was chosen to inaugurate the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's Points of Entry Public Art Series at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum on the occasion of the first year anniversary of the September-11-2001 New York attacks. Based on the controversial nature of this work and the sensitivities regarding the tragic event that inspired their making, there has subsequently been a commentary-board made available for visitors/viewers to voice their interpretations and reflections for this work.

Footnotes

Controversy did erupt over the display of this artwork in the windows of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and a petition against the artist and museum along with threat to picket which was eventually averted. The artist met with the organizers to discuss their claims and negotiated the shrouding of the artworks on 11 September 2002 for 24hours in deference to museum board members whose family members had perished in the World Trade Center disaster.   The head-quarter offices of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council LMCC, the sponsors of this Public-art series were destroyed in the World Trade Towers attacks of 11 September 2001.   The artist was living in residence at the Cité International des Arts in Paris France during the tragedy of the September 11 attacks. He returned to New York in October/November of that year and relocated his studio practice to Berlin Germany where this work were fabricated.

Public comments:
“My initial response: This is clever. The artist is thinking about making us think hard.
My thoughts/feelings- the more I thought, the greater my confusion, since I don’t truly know what a Burqa is or means… (ie:flags) of 4 different countries gives so many different meanings simultaneously. The artist wants us to think about a culture we don’t understand.”
“Very interesting and loved the different flags.” “Restless, Invokes a feeling of despair.” “Women, religion, imposition. Makes me thing [sic] that the person who wears it doesn’t count because no image is available. Inspired by the recent insight into the Arab/Muslim culture. To provoke a reaction by using conventional flags as the material for a very controversial cloth.” “Meant to be inflammatory. That western powers want to take over eastern lifestyles-or-that somehow these cultures do not mix to our minds. Or that western society is not as gender-equal as we like to believe. Commenting on culture clashes. Wanting to bring attention to the differences and similarities of cultures.”
“When I first saw it I didn’t know what to make of it. I’m not a modern or abstract art fan. however, my initial response was that I liked it. It makes me think of hate and repression. I think the artist is leaving the question up to us. It appears it took a familiar image and messed with it for effect.”
“Overpowering. I think about how cultural identity can be manipulated and used. Calling into question the absolute, certain way that people have talked about culture and politics since 9/11 and forcing us to acknowledge the complexity of the new political realities we face.”
“Striking-colors, forms. Of the West’s sticky fingers. I think he is mixing symbols to instigate thought and discussion. I doubt he has a definitive statement he wanted to make. Certainly he has his own feelings/reaction/understanding But I got the impression that he wanted each individual to make their own meaning” Provocative. Great way to address culpability interconnectedness actions in the past/assigning and imposing cultures and values. Choosing to have his work displayed in a storefront, on the street-scape is ‘in your face’-might want to catch people off guard- Has the opportunity to provoke ‘RAW’ reaction and then force viewer to think more and consider current events differently?”
“Forced me to confront something difficult, to take responsibility for something difficult. Makes me think about connection between ‘us’ and ‘them’, ‘east’ and ‘west’

Public commentary from the  Brooklyn Museum of Art (Link currently unavailable)

Various notes on the Burka or Burqa from wikipedia (Link currently unavailable)

The larger classification of the Hijab from wikipedia (Link currently unavailable)