Subversion is indeed a fine art, a skill not to be undertaken by those not quite storied enough to pull it off. For a brief master class on how exactly to land one of the greatest subversive acts of 2015, look no further than the three street artists hired by Homeland (a.k.a. the show you gave up on) to provide "apolitical" graffiti during the filming of an episode entitled "The Tradition of Hospitality." Quickly noticing during production that no one on the crew was really paying them any attention, the artists injected some truth into the series, something many would argue has been missing for several seasons:
"We wish we’d caught these images before they made it to air," Homeland co-creator and showrunner Alex Gansaowever tells Entertainment Weekly in a statement. "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."
The artists also released a statement, highlighting their frustrations with the show and its resulting "chain of causality with Arabs." When initially approached regarding the episode, the artists (Heba Amin, Stone, and Caram Kapp) were understandably hesitant before sensing the opportunity to make a statement:
At the beginning of June 2015, we received a phone call from a friend who has been active in the Graffiti and Street art scene in Germany for the past 30 years and has researched graffiti in the Middle East extensively. He had been contacted by “Homeland’s” set production company who were looking for “Arabian street artists” to lend graffiti authenticity to a film set of a Syrian refugee camp on the Lebanese/Syrian border for their new season. Given the series’ reputation we were not easily convinced, until we considered what a moment of intervention could relay about our own and many others’ political discontent with the series. It was our moment to make our point by subverting the message using the show itself.
In our initial meeting, we were given a set of images of pro-Assad graffiti- apparently natural in a Syrian refugee camp. Our instructions were: (1) the graffiti has to be apolitical (2) you cannot copy the images because of copyright infringement (3) writing “Mohamed is the greatest, is okay of course”. We would arm ourselves with slogans, with proverbs allowing for critical interpretation, and, if the chance presented itself, blatant criticism directed at the show. And so, it came to be.
The messages, which miraculously made it to air earlier this week, included "Homeland is racist," "Homeland is a joke and it didn't make us laugh," "#BlackLivesMatter," "This show does not represent the views of the artists," "Homeland is NOT a series," and more: