At the wake of the ten-year anniversary of the horrendous 9/11 terrorist attacks, Iranian-America Yasmin Etemadi is displaying a photo collection titled “Witness,” at the historic Art Theatre on Retro Row.
The collection of 10 black and white photos began when the former New York photographer captured the image of a sticker placed on a large red truck that read “Special Issue USA, Permit No. 091101, Terrorist Hunting Permit, No Bag Limit, and Tagging Not Required.”
At that moment in 2004, Etemadi instantly began questioning her identity as an Iranian immigrant in America, while taking notice and appreciating the American patriotism all the same.
“I’ve learned so many thing since I started this project, both on a personal and political level. One common experience I’ve had, both in New York and California, has been that a new kind of patriotism has emerged in this country since September 11th, 2001, and this has manifested itself in various unique public expressions,” she said.
Her collection includes the patriotic symbolism that has surfaced in the streets all across the country, including street murals of the American flag in Brooklyn, vendors at the World Trade Center site selling memorabilia art and moments captured at a Los Angeles remembrance memorial.
And although Etemadi certainly gained from this project, to view the collection is a benefit to all Americans. Her photos express the raw patriotism juxtaposed with the destruction and devastation our country experienced during the 9/11 attacks and is a great reminder of the strength of the people of the United States.
“The photos series was a healing process for me in a way. I felt more comfortable being myself and got back in touch with my Iranian roots,” she said. “I also felt like as a photographer, I had a duty to document the historical events I was a witness to, so I felt more American as well. In a way, this project was my own way of expressing my patriotism.”
Since 9/11, do you feel like your sense of American Pride has increased? Or perhaps the opposite? I I suggest you go experience this “Witness” collection to think about that a bit. The Artists Reception will be held this Sunday, September 11 from 5 to 6 PM, but the collection can be viewed through September 30th.
The Art Theatre is located at 2025 East 4th St. Hours vary, so call 562-438-5435 for questions or visit www.arttheatrelongbeach.com.
You can also view more of Etemadi’s photos at http://www.yasminetemadi.com/witness.html