Homeland offered more political commentary than it bargained for on Sunday, when graffiti that translated to “Homeland is racist” made it to air.
The three street artists responsible for the work — Heba Amin, Stone, and Caram Kapp — released a statement on Wednesday, explaining that production crews gave them pro- President Bashar al-Assad graffiti as inspiration but instructed them to keep their art apolitical. However, it quickly became apparent that, as Amin tells the Washington Post, “no one was paying attention.”
In a statement released to EW, Homeland co-creator and showrunner Alex Gansa said, “We wish we’d caught these images before they made it to air. However, as Homeland always strives to be subversive in its own right and a stimulus for conversation, we can’t help but admire this act of artistic sabotage.”
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The artists say in their statement:
Set designers were too frantic to pay any attention to us; they were busy constructing a hyper-realistic set that addressed everything from the plastic laundry pins to the frayed edges of outdoor plastic curtains. It looked very Middle Eastern and the summer sun and heat helped heighten that illusion. In their eyes, Arabic script is merely a supplementary visual that completes the horror-fantasy of the Middle East, a poster image dehumanizing an entire region to human-less figures in black burkas and moreover, this season, to refugees. The show has thus created a chain of causality with Arabs at its beginning and as its outcome- their own victims and executioners at the same time. As was briefly written on the walls of a make-believe Syrian refugee camp in a former Futterphosphatfabrik (animal feed plant) in the outskirts of Berlin, the situation is not to be trusted- الموضوع فيه أن.
When production crews approached Stone in June during the filming of the episode (titled “The Tradition of Hospitality”), Amin tells the Post that no one wanted to work on the project “because of their political standpoints.” Then, she says, they thought, “What if we could use this as an opportunity to be subversive, to make a point with it?”
Amin says that Homeland trades in “inaccurate, undifferentiated and highly biased depiction of Arabs, Pakistanis, and Afghans.”
“It’s very important for us to address the idea that this kind of stereotyping is very dangerous,” she says, “because it helps form people’s perceptions of an entire region, a huge region, which in turn affects foreign policy. It was a way to claim back our image.”
According to the artists’ photos, other messages worked into the street art include, “Homeland is NOT a series” and “This show does not represent the views of the artists.” Amin says that cultural slogans like “#BlackLivesMatter” were also included.