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Library removes Kazemi photos after complaint

2005-06-06 13:26:00

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Library removes Kazemi photos after complaint
Last Updated Tue, 07 Jun 2005 13:05:21 EDT
CBC Arts

An exhibition of work by slain Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi has been shut down, following complaints it was too sympathetic to the Palestinian uprising.

Last week, a collection of 23 black-and-white photos Kazemi took during her travels in countries like Israel, Iran and Afghanistan opened at a municipal library in the Montreal borough of Côte Saint-Luc, which has a large Jewish population.
Slain photographer Zahra Kazemi

A library patron complained that several of the photos depict scenes of the intefadeh, the Palestinian uprising in Israel, and of Palestinian refugee camps. Gallery officials decided to remove five images.

Kazemi's son Stephan Hachemi told Radio-Canada Monday that dismantling the exhibition shows a lack of respect.

"To me, this is truly a violation of the spirit of my mother's work," he said.

Hachemi gave the borough an ultimatum – either display all the photos or none of them – so organizers have closed the exhibit.

Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Robert Libman told CBC News Tuesday that the library's gallery isn't there to provoke controversy.

"It's a very complicated conflict, and to create an impression where the Palestinian cause is being martyred by oppression by the Israeli government, we don't consider that to be a fair portrait," Libman said. He added that, in the future, such politically charged work won't be displayed at the library.
Stephan Hachemi, Kazemi's son, called removing the photos a violation of his mother's body of work.

The borough council had commissioned the exhibition to draw attention to the ongoing fight to find out what happened to Kazemi, who died in Tehran on July 11, 2003.

* INDEPTH: Zahra Kazemi

At the time, the Montreal-based photographer was in the custody of local police, who had arrested her for shooting pictures of a student demonstration outside an Iranian prison.


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