Artist Dima Nachawi interrogates who has the power to define and categorise in her illustration for #inktober

The category of the “Lone Wolf” that has been used in the recent case of the Las Vegas murders committed by Stephen Paddock was the provocation behind this drawing. It seems that authorities consistently humanise murderers who are white, describing their background, family and other biographical details. Yet, when a killer is a person of colour such details, including mental health, are ignored.  Authorities and the media are quick to describe any such killing as the work of “terrorists”. 

Considering who is called a terrorist, made me ask who both defines and owns the labels. Labelling is not just used by governments. Even international non-profit organisations use such categories to interfere in other cultures under the guise of helping countries, especially those in crisis.

This piece is both a protest and an invitation to reflect on how everyday categories are racially coded.

#inktober is an artistic initiative that was started by Jake Parker in 2009. It challenges artists to draw a picture every day during the month of October and is supported by artists globally, with a strong social media following; 140,000 likes on Facebook and 43,000 followers on Twitter. I am participating in this challenge for the third year, with my work continuing to be inspired by current events locally and globally.

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Dima Nachawi is a researcher and freelance artist. Her research, funded by the Arab Foundation for Culture, explores methods for collecting Syrian memories and transforming them into visual narratives. Her project is called Memory Initiative for Syrian Culture (MISC).  Dima’s artwork can artwork can be found at behance.net/dimanashawaaf8


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