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Student Art Provokes Saudi Community

Dirty Laundry

What good is art without a healthy dash of controversy? Strangely, this latest shock-art didn't involve slicing a cow in half, or even immersing a crucifix in a cup of urine. 

For a fine arts student in Kamloops, B.C., all it took was a black-and-white image of a Muslim woman doing her laundry to provoke the Saudi Arabian Embassy.

Shortly after Thompson Rivers University's Sooraya Graham photographed one of her friends wearing full Muslim dress while holding a bra, the displayed image was promptly torn down by a staff member.

"I was pretty shocked and I kind of felt my personal space as an artist and a Canadian had been invaded," said Graham. Even though the staff member was acting on their own and not " in an official capacity," the photo drew the attention of the Saudi community.

Though the university once again displayed the photo for the remainder of its art show, intent on balancing "cultural sensitivity with freedom of speech," the Saudi Education Centre in Kamloops, funded by the Saudi Arabian government, wasn't impressed.

The centre president, Trad Bahabri stressed the need to provide context to "clarify the idea behind the picture. I'm pretty sure many people misinterpret and many people misunderstand it. I can guarantee that."

Do think Graham should 'explain' her art, or would that negate the whole point of art as being open to interpretation?