Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Censoring the Censored (A Storm in a Tea-cup)...

Image from a Kuwaiti news-stand, showing examples of the inconsistency in censoring various women's magazine covers. The magazine to the left has its shoulders blackened out, a body part the three right hand magazines show. On the other hand the side of the chest and armpit have been censored in the second magazine from the right, an area left exposed in the cover to its left. The magazine to the right shows shoulders, upper arms, chest as well as her abdomen...


Today I was informed that the project exploring censorship in Kuwait (featured earlier in this blog) has provoked an angry reaction by some of the powers that be at Kuwait University. I apologise for that, the intention with the project was never to cause offence - its aim was to explore a particular aspect of Kuwaiti culture which, particularly in the context of various art and design related practices (particularly within graphic design, the major of all the students in the class) is of significance.

However, beyond the fact that I feel it's a bit of a storm in a tea cup (as, after all, even the included images are 'censored', albeit in a different manner than what can be observed at local news-stands), if this type of benign exploration and research can't take place in academia, within the confines of a university (amongst the brightest of bright in the nation), where can they? The images included in the piece show nothing that can't already be seen at any news-stand in Kuwait (as can be witnessed by the image from a Kuwaiti news-stand above, and the images from local newspapers below) and, actually, improve and provide alternatives to the way in which censoring can be achieved. They were also done within the confines of the censorship regulations of Kuwait, sourced from the Kuwait Ministry of Education, and have passed all relevant authorities in the UAE, where the magazine in question is published.

It has to be re-emphasized, all the featured images in the article remain censored - they just achieved the the censoring in a different, more designed and less intrusive, way...

I also have to emphasise that the decision to do this project was done solely by me. The responsibility of its theme and outcomes are mine alone. No other staff, let alone any of my students, are accountable for its conclusions.

It would be interesting to hear what you think about this. Feedback on this issue would be appreciated...


... And some pictures from some of today's Kuwaiti newspapers...


3 comments:

aziz said...

You know, just today I was about to engage in a debate... then I realized something...

I am a Kuwaiti, and for some reason I've just realized that Kuwaitis can't seem to see beyond the tip of their noses.

They will start to argue with you, fight you, try to stop you from expressing your self, and go to unbelievable lengths only because? I wish it was because they disagree with you. Its simply because they disagree with a 'word' that you have mentioned. Its like.. if I want to communicate with a Kuwaiti, I must know whats on HIS mind and talk to him based on THAT!

So, why were they against your work? Its not that because they don't like the method it was conducted, its not because they dont like the way you analyzed it... its not even because they dont like the conclusions you've came up with... its simply because you're evaluating something called 'censorship'. and in kuwait... they absolutely love to argue.. on anything.. just throw them a word and it will snowball into a HUGE debate that could end up in news or political fronts!

honestly, i don't know who you are and what you're doing in Kuwait.. I've been many times through ur blog and I love reading it. I got an impression that you're married to a Kuwait but I don't know if that was correct. But anyhow, i do appreciate what you're presenting us with.. and if you're a professor at Kuwait University or other academic institute, please dont morph into a Kuwaiti educator.. please be the way you are.. they will fight you, sure. they will try to fire you, most likely.. but after all, i'm sure a great person like you can find a job anywhere... and if you have come to work here i'm sure u can find a job anywhere else in the world.. so just think about the students that you're teaching.. in a small country like kuwait a single person can make a big difference.. so please do invest as much as you can in them.

i never got to appreciate education until i quiet this miserable Kuwait University.. I went to the UK hoping to get a bachelor degree.. all of a sudden i realized what a big waste of time it was the years I spent at my department in Kuwait.

i know not every department is the same, and as i mentioned before, i do believe one person can do much.. so i wish you good luck with what you're doing and thank you for brightening up our minds.

aziz said...

oh by the way, i forgot to mention.. i quiet KUniv, went to UK broken and tired of studying just wanting bachelor degree and come back... now i'm getting ready to start my PhD in Engineering, and been offered to work at HP, Nokia, BP, and even Airbus!

Thomas said...

Hi Aziz,

Those are some fighting words..!? But I thank you for your vote of confidence...

As you insinuated (or guessed) I'm actually moving from Kuwait in a few days to teach elsewhere...

But please don't loose hope, as there are so many talented and dedicated people here who are aware and enviably capable of making something remarkable and hopefully, eventually, a difference. Please check out Wednesday's post for a few examples of local talent within Graphic Design...

I wish you the best of luck with your upcoming studies...

Tom