Keyword Archives: language

June 21 2016

Subversive Graffiti on the Set of Homeland


‘Homeland is racist’, graffiti by Heba Amin, Caram Kapp, Don Karl, 2015. Photo by the artists.

The award-winning show Homeland is a television series from the U.S. featuring Claire Danes as a C.I.A. counter-terrorism agent. The series has been criticised for Islamophobic stereotypes and errors in its depiction of the Middle East. When filming in Berlin in 2015, artists from the Middle East were hired to ‘decorate’ the set with Arabic graffiti. The artists quickly realised no one was interested in what the graffiti actually said. As artist Heba Amin noted, ‘Arabic script is merely a supplementary visual that completes the horror-fantasy of the Middle East’. They decided to use this opportunity to criticise the television series by writing slogans like ‘Homeland is Racist’,  and ‘#blacklivesmatter’. Only after the episode aired the artists released a statement about the meaning of the slogans that had appeared during the show. The artists said, ‘It’s very important for us to address the idea that this kind of stereotyping is very dangerous because it helps form people’s perceptions of an entire region, a huge region, which in turn affects foreign policy’.

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May 11 2016

Browser-based Colonization


Tokelau, 2011. Image: Australian Department of Foreign Affairs. Flickr

In the middle of the pacific ocean lies a micronation called Tokelau, inhabited by about 1400 souls. This tiny island country is the second largest domain in the world after .com, with over 25 million registrars in 2014. How did this happen? Every country is assigned a top level domain (TLD), only Tokelau wasn’t doing anything with it. In 2000 there were only four phone lines, and none of the inhabitants had even seen a webpage. A Dutch entrepreneur came to the islands with the idea to offer the web domains of Tokelau (.tk) for free, and make money with advertisements on the webpages. Now one-sixth of the Tokelau economy comes from .tk domain revenue. Thanks to the 25 million digital inhabitants, Tokelau has put itself on the map, but perhaps not in a way that will benefit the islanders in the long run. No land is more than two meters above sea level, and sooner or later this micronation will dissappear in the sea. By then it will only exist online, digitally inhabited.

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