We never realize how lucky we are until we are face to face with those who do not have anything close to what we have. After seeing how others live it’s much easier to understand the true meaning of freedom and we are made to evaluate ourselves in a whole new way.
Diane Hause does a profound job of making people think twice about our situation and the situations of others in her art exhibit “Thinly Veiled Misogyny and a Perpetual State of Inconsequence.
“The title refers to the “Burqa,” a thick veil that Afghan women are forced to wear. Not only does it cover the whole head and shoulders in a stifling manner, but it also has a thick gauze-like piece covering the hole of the eyes, making viewing of the outside world constricted and unreal. An actual Burqa was provided on a table for people to try on and a book lying next to it that invites people to “write any words descriptive to your experience of trying on this restrictive and demoralizing garment.
“For those who did try it on, only for a minute or so, knowing that for many women this is a reality they have to live with constantly is both frightening and shocking. The collection is both realistic and optimistic one, mirroring the artist’s attitude on life as well as the situation in Afghanistan. Though she started her focus on women’s rights in Afghanistan long before the September 11 attacks (she started the series of paintings two years ago), Hause believes that this event will encourage people to move their focus onto things that are happening in that part of the world.
“People are finally aware. At first people were like, “Where’s Afghanistan? What’s a Burqa?” Then, boom, 9-11, and all of a sudden people are asking “What was that you were writing about again? “The awareness shifted for everybody. I’m concerned where it will shift again, with how we will do this.” Hause is referring to many different things, not just the war on terrorism.
Women’s rights, equal treatment and the destruction of the Taliban are among these concerns, and the methods with which we start changing the way of life for people in that area. For a girl whose mother grew up in Iran, the artwork provided for me a slice of reality and everyday life for so many women. Women who are sometimes willing to go to jail and die for the chance to achieve status next to men who rule that country. This exhibit was done in partnership with RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.
These are “women in Afghanistan who are working to empower women and peacefully resist fundamentalist domination.” We would like to think that what with the United States involvement in Afghanistan that there would be more progress than there actually is.
Though Hause admits that it is inevitability going to be a slow and long progress, she is disappointed to have been told by fellow RAWA supporter Eve Ensler (Writer of critically acclaimed play “The Vagina Monologues”), that “not one penny has gone to the women of Afghanistan.” “Even the woman that has been elected as the female leader in Afghanistan doesn’t have an office, doesn’t have a phone.
“Still, the artist and her work are realistically hopeful. Along with the images of covered women, and hooded, indistinguishable figures, are the images of a new tomorrow-blue skies, rising moons, women of our environment. The removal of the Burqa as a forced means of domination-not to be confused with the chosen form of veiling which many Muslim women include with their religion and lifestyle, not degradation-may bring high hopes for some.
But for the women of Afghanistan this means more danger than before. With the exposure of themselves comes and incredible rise in the incidents of rape. It seems like a hopeless battle, but as long as there are women willing to sacrifice themselves the future of their daughters, and their daughters’ daughters, progress will be made.
— Leila Regan for the Georgia State University Signal
February 10, 2002