So, how'd they get away with it? "Set designers were too frantic to pay any attention to us," the artists explain.
"It was our moment to make our point by subverting the message using the show itself," the graffiti artists Heba Amin, Caram Kapp, and Stone write of their latest exploit, sneaking anti-Homeland sentiments onto the latest episode of the Showtime series in the form of tags they were paid to paint for the show's sets. Their task was to lend "graffiti authenticity" to a recreation of a Syrian refugee camp, and authenticity was what the show's producers got: authentically scandalizing sentiments like "The situation is not to be trusted," "This show does not represent the views of the artists," "Homeland is a joke, and it didn’t make us laugh," and, perhaps most directly, "Homeland is racist."
"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,” the artists, who go by the group name "Arabian Street Artists," write in a blog post detailing their exploit. "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."
But, how did they get away with it? On the set of an award-winning, internationally syndicated series, now in its fifth season, wasn't someone paying attention? "The set decoration had to be completed in two days, for filming on the third," the artists write. "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. The content of what was written on the walls, however, was of no concern."
It should be noted that it's not the first time the show has been under fire, either: the artists point to a Washington Post article calling the series "the most bigoted show on television," and a YouTube video, A Pakistani Points Out 6 Homeland Fails, which notes how the show (hopefully accidentally) even named one of its terrorists after a Pakistani ambassador to the US.
But according to Deadline, the reactions from Homeland showrunner Alex Gansa could have been worse: “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.”
Check out more images of the Homeland sets below:
Click here to read Arabian Street Artists' original blog post.