King’s Kian: In and Out of Place explores racial prejudice

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Edward Said

When approaching the issue of international acceptance and diversity, spanning a wide range of media to promote a philanthropic idea makes sense.

“King’s Kian: In and Out of Place” is an art exhibit and dialogue based on the documentary Out of Place: Memories of Edward Said, by Japanese filmmaker Sato Makato. The film discusses Said’s Orientalism theories about racial stereotyping in mass media and various social myths perpetuated by Western society.

Local artists Thelma Rosner and Jamelie Hassan hope their art will encourage discussion regarding prejudice. They believe letting individuals think about their own biases better integrates multiculturalism into the community.

Hassan, a Lebanese-Canadian, is deeply involved in promoting cultural themes through her work.

“Said and his ideas have been central to some of the art and activism I’ve been doing over the last few years,” Hassan says. “[He speaks to] the larger question of one’s identity and the issues surrounding stereotypes. He examines what it means to be a citizen in your own part of the world and how that may effect your relations to another part of the world.”

Hassan bases her public artwork around “Kian,” a Persian term meaning “Benevolent king or monarch;” in Arabic it denotes “soul” or “essence;” in Celtic, it describes “ancient one.”

The neon calligraphy symbol illuminates a broader theme of cultural acceptance with both the scholastic environment and London community.

King’s College Professor Joseph W. Lella, who provides an introduction to the documentary, emphasizes the importance of acceptance and diversity within one’s community.

“The whole idea for the evening was to make Middle Eastern issues related to the Muslim community at King’s and at Western more prevalent in public space in the university community,” Lella says.

He encourages students to get involved through multicultural clubs such as the Muslim Students’ Association and not to be intimidated in approaching professors with ideas.

“The Centre for Peace and Social Justice does a lot of things with these kinds of issues… I would certainly be willing to be involved with students to promote something like this,” he adds.

The free exhibit opens today at 7:30 p.m. and runs Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at the King’s University College Students’ Lounge in the Wemple Building. The artists will be present to discuss their pieces throughout the exhibit.

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