Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Know Your Audience

Yesterday another of my reviews was placed on DCist, this time reviewing the recent exhibition, Transform/Nation at the Ellipse Arts Center.

There are two things I try to do within my writing: 1) give a broader context for the work or highlight the social issues it may contend with. 2) implant a touch of humor. After all, if art is just about the subject void of context, or about color and movement and composition, reading art reviews is a little dry. Unfortunately, both of my objectives were removed from my post yesterday with the final edit.

One section of the review was a 183 word summary on the political changes in Iran over the last century and how it informs contemporary Iranian identity. Interesting stuff, and if you are interested in engaging it for yourself you can go here or here. The 183 words were cut because 1) it wasn't necessary with relationship to the show, 2) people in DC are aware of the history, 3) it's a blog -- people like to read short things. All three reasons I can agree with. However, what could it hurt?

I had this great line about Hijab that I wanted to keep. Backend: Part of the review dealt with Hijab in Western culture. While Hijab is a practice of modesty through dress, there is also a garment called a hijab that is worn around the neck and head, exposing only the face. For those who have paid attention to the news in the last couple of years, there have been movements in some European countries to ban the wearing of a hijab in public schools, which is ridiculous. So, I wrote this:
For a woman who chooses to faithfully practice Islam in the west, abandoning Hijab for the fashions of Sports Illustrated swimsuits may be as anathema as abandoning Halal to wash down a pork-chop with a beer. (Would we ask Amish women to remove their bonnets or adopt electricity?)
How often do pork chops and beer make it into an art review? To go along with the statement I was going to include the above image from Haleh Anvari's Chadorama (courtesy Ellipse Arts Center).

Heather and Sommer (at DCist) do a fine job with how they edit my posts and they manage to maintain my voice, which is incredible because at times there are significant changes. I am pleased to be under their guidance and a contributer to the blog. But, yesterday, after my most recent post was put up, it almost felt like I wrote it. I guess I need to get to know my audience and my editors a little better so that I can satisfy DCists editorial process and my writing interests. It's a learning process.

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