In “Creating Identity, Defining Culture, and Making History from an Art Exhibit: An Unfinished Story: A Tribute to my Mothers,” Valverde writes about Huynh Chau and the controversy surrounding her art. Chau had created an art piece titled “Pedicure Basin” which illustrated the handwork, dedication, and sacrifice of her mother-in-law. Chau had been asked to translate her personal statement on her work so that it could be published to the Nguoi Viet Daily. The Vietnamese diaspora community reacted negatively to her art and claimed that she was being disrespectful to the Republic of Vietnam since the flag is painted into a pedicure basin. Furthermore, both the newspaper and artists were believed to be linked to communist Vietnam. Eventually the edition the article appeared in was recalled and the editors fired.
Despite the fact that Chau had intended it to mean something completely different, others did not see it the same way, which resulted in the controversy. This goes to show how symbols, signs, and art can vary in meaning depending on the eye of the beholder. Controversy over meaning is also seen in the fashion. There has been debate around the kaffiyeh as a fashion statement versus its political and cultural origins. Urban Outfitters had tried to monopolize on this type of scarf through selling it at its stores as an “anti-war woven scarf.” Eventually, the store stopped selling the item and released an apology. Originally, the kaffiyeh was worn by Palestinian peasants but with time became a symbol of nationalism and resistance against Israel. Some Jews on the other hand do not see the kaffiyeh in this way rather they see it as a symbol of terrorism. Thus, depending on your background, how you interpret the kaffiyeh and its meaning will change.
Palestinian men wearing Kaffiyeh
Inside Source:Valverde, Kieu-Linh Caroline. 2008. "Creating Identity, Defining Culture, and Making History from an Art Exhibit: 'Unfinished Story: A Tribute to My Mothers'."Crossroads 19:2. Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University.
Outside Source: Kim, Kibum. "Where Some See Fashion, Others See Politics." The New York Times. The New York Times, 11 Feb. 2007. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.