A submerged idol of Hindu Lord Shiva stands in the flooded River Ganges in Rishikesh, in Uttarakhand, India. Monsoon torrential rains have caused havoc leading to flash floods, cloudbursts and landslides as the death toll continues to climb.
This body of work is an exploration of the extent of cultural appropriation and encourages a discussion about it. I give the appropriator and the appropriated the opportunity to defend themselves and create a dialogue between them, while maintaining a neutral stance myself. I am not attacking those who appropriate, merely educating and creating awareness. Neutrality is key in this series, as i remove myself from my political and social status and opinions, stripping the problem to the most basic issue; taking an item that means a great deal to somebody and corrupting it.
“I’d like to make this a long term exploration, with a lot more participants as a form of generation-wide debate. If you’d like to be photographed to give your point of view, please do not hesitate to pop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.” - Sanaa Hamid
I often wear bindis, as do many of my friends, and to me it is for a few reasons.
1. The middle of the eyebrows is an aesthetically pleasing place to put crystal gems and it highlights the eyes and forehead.
2. I feel connected to my third eye and having the sticker placed there reminds me of my spiritual connection to the world and my chakras.
3. I have travelled to India and have always felt a strong connection with the culture there. Even before I visited I wore bindis and it served as a small reminder and link to the country and people. I feel it is a respect in someways.
I also sometimes use paint instead of stickers, or eyeliner to create a design in the centre of my forehead. When I was in India I asked a couple of women why they wear bindis and they replied that it was for married women, or a link to their religion and spirituality or simply a matter of fashion. I asked if I offended anyone wearing them and they all replied no…
Everyone has the right to their own opinions and some folk will feel hurt or insulted by a lot of mundane things that others do. You cannot please them all! I have been accused of cultural appropriation on many ocassions (on tumblr solely) for the use of bindis and my dreadlocks (of all things seriously?) but I feel rongly accused, especially when one or two girls then called me racist.
Religion should be more fluid and malleable, without the separation that we have in our society between different organisations and groups that essentially worship the same source or essence. They all teach very powerful lessons and through their stories and metaphors enlighten us in our journey. Organised religion has caused a lot of great suffering and division in the world which need not have happened if instead a world unity had been prevalent. Just because a white person has adopted a symbol coming from other cultural roots does not make it any less valid a statement. I agree that respect for the original meaning/purpose behind the token, in the form of acknowledgement, is needed and if that person is bringing no harm to others or the meaning of the symbol then it should be fine. Looking at what Hitler did to the Swastika is a fine example of how a religious symbol could be taken and completely destroyed into something harmful, so respect must be taken. We use the Ohm symbol in a lot of art and decor, tattoo and body modification and fashion. Is this not the same as using a bindi or wearing a turban? If you feel a link to the item or token then why not use it as self expression.
Less hate, more love, less duality, more unity.
Please comment if you want to discuss more, I’d like to go more into this topic with you guys!
The “hells” (jigoku) of Beppu are nine spectacular hot springs for viewing rather than bathing. Seven of the hells are located in the Kannawa district and two in the more remote Shibaseki district. The Chinoike Jigoku or ‘blood pond hell’ features a pond of hot, red water. It is the most photogenic of the nine hells.