Hassan Nasrallah and the Barbies

 Nasrallah, barbies and the Lebanese artist and filmmaker Jocelyne Saab together, are a good explosive mixture to blow up her own exhibition. To see what’s it al about look first at  the main explosive culprit, the picture titled “”American-Israeli playground”:

American-Israeli playground
American-Israeli playground

 And here is the story, I quote, ..” The exhibition “Sense,  and Sensibility”, her first photograph exhibition, opened at an art gallery in downtown Beirut. It wasn’t long she had toasted the opening  that problems began to arise. The exhibit illustrates Eastern and Western concepts and Arab perceptions of the West in a catchy, and to some quite kitschy or even distasteful way.”, see here.


The morning after the exhibit opened, last week, November 6-2008, at Beirut’s Planet Discovery, an event attended by over 200 people, including diplomats and representatives from Lebanon’s Ministry of Culture, the venue owner demanded that the artist remove images thought too provocative.

 “Sense, Icons and Sensibility”
“Sense, Icons and Sensibility”

The image that sparked most controversy, Saab’s spokesperson Nasri Sayegh said, was a photo titled “American-Israeli playground”, which shows Christ on a crucifix surrounded by photos of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and undressed Barbie dolls in the background.

 Saab’s spokesperson continue, I quote…”Several photos at an exhibit by Lebanese filmmaker Jocelyne Saab have been removed because they were considered too controversial by the owner of the exhibition space. ‘Fear is the worst kind of censorship,’ “, see here.

Jocelyne Saab, the artist, called her exhibits …”neo-pop art: Digital photographs illustrating ideas of the East, the West and globalization with striking images of lurid commercial detritus. Not only does Barbie run – sometimes bare-breasted, sometimes fully veiled – through the images, she is joined by political and religious memorabilia depicting Hassan Nasrallah and Jesus Christ.”…see here.

Lebanese artist and filmmaker Jocelyne Saab
Lebanese artist and filmmaker Jocelyne Saab

 In an interview with AFP she explained that …””I wasn’t looking to provoke or shock anyone. … This piece symbolizes a cemetery and says that Americans and Israelis use us as a playground. It is a call for us to be vigilant and to cohabitate rather than a call to divide and insult.”…see here.
The website Now Lebanon has called on the country’s Ministry of Culture to step in and reinstate Saab’s photos, see here.


BTW, in Israel, Jewish fundamentalist ultra orthodox Haredims, banned the picture of Kadimah leader and FM Tzipi Livni from their newspaper because she is a women. I quote, …” ‘Graphic artists will blur the faces of women that do make their way into pictures that the papers want to use. ‘They will also blur pictures of television sets or other..”,  see here. So, here is the same “Barbie” mixture: put together Tzipi Livni a secular women and an orthodox jewish newspapers, and the result is a religious censhorship on a perhaps future prime minister of Israel….The middle age blurred by Photoshop..



3 Replies to “Hassan Nasrallah and the Barbies”

  1. Self-censorship is the worst kind of censorship. Lebanon used to be a breathing space in the Arab world. Today, between what you cannot do when the situation is tense (because it is dangerous) and what you cannot do when the situation is calm (because it might get tense), Lebanon is only a shadow of its former self.

    Thanks for the post.


  2. Ms. Tee,
    You describe very well the whole situation in Lebanon. With regard to what can be done or not, it is a real dilemma without solution … For a country once called “Switzerland of the East. …” this is very sad.

    Anyway, thank you for the comment, and I wish you the best.
    Shlomo Korzac


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