Elizabeth Kuster: Dora the Explorer is a young Latina who travels the world, overcoming every obstacle and fairly brimming with positivity about the people she meets and the places she sees. Her burkha-wearing Yemeni "cousin," Noora? Not so much. Can you say, "arranged marriage" ...?!
Meet Dora the Explorer's Less Fortunate 'Cousin,' Noora
Noora the Arranged Explorer
Inspired by famed Mexican muralist Jose Clemente Orozco (and his themes of oppression, humanism, satire and compassion for common people), young Yemeni artist Muhammed Shahadat turned his sights on "Dora the Explorer," asking himself, "What if Dora were Yemeni?" The result? "Noora the Arranged Explorer," a series of animation cels that are both hilarious and disturbing, given the fact that they take a rather tongue-in-cheek view of the hardship and oppression suffered by Middle Eastern women. Check it out:
EPISODE 1: "The Village of Sana'a"
"Animators introduce 12-year-old Noora playing in the village of Sana'a, Yemen," writes Shahadat. "An average day for Noora is depicted, as she plays under the sun by pushing an old bike wheel with a stick. This is a popular game for children in the vast, poverty-filled areas of Yemen. The surrounding buildings are still to this day made of cement and old stones, with plenty of earth and hints of foliage here and there."
EPISODE 2: "Arrangement"
"Noora's parents arrange a marriage," writes Shahadat. "Noora is to marry a much older man. Her parents receive cash as a dowry. Noora may choose to challenge this arrangement, but she is easily convinced into thinking this is best for her. Since it has been the traditional custom in villages all over the region for decades, Noora does not question her parents. These villages were places where 13-year-old boys would marry because they would die young. How times have changed ...."
EPISODE 3: "Ending"
"Noora and her newlywed husband, Adel, stand in front of the wedding hall to pose for a picture," writes Shahadat. "Adel is wearing the traditional flower necklace and Jumbia (dagger). Noora is also wearing a bright, traditional Yemeny (sic) wedding dress with a gold necklace. Congratulations, Noora!" "Noora the Arranged Explorer" is part of "Re-Imagining Orozco," a multi-artist exhibit that will be on view at the New School's Anna-Marie and Stephen Kellen Gallery in NYC until September 12. The gallery is located at 66 Fifth Avenue and 13th Street in Manhattan and is open from noon to 6 seven days a week, and until 8 on Thursdays. (It's closed on major holidays.) Admission is free.