Costume Party at the Moslem Temple, 2019
What does it mean to do research in a place called a Moslem Temple and to dance there? How can I or should I become a part of it, to embody it, to use my senses to understand and laugh at this locale? What does the Mystic Order of the Shriners have to do with a Playboy Bunny? How do the Shriners see the use and consumption of such images of the Arab subject? How do these images serve the U.S.’s endless war with and in the Middle East? What does it mean to have a billboard and a float in one space? How is a float a billboard? What is being advertised in a parade? What is lost and gained in the American dream for the local Arab artists, artisans and shopkeepers embedded safely within the rich diaspora of their relocated cultures and community in Dearborn?
The Shriners, formerly known as the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, a fraternal order organized around the principles of “fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth,” was established in 1870 by founders Walter M. Fleming, M.D., and William J. Florence. Taking many drawings and notes at a party given by an Arab diplomat in Marseille, Fleming built his sect of Freemasons, The Shriners, on the pillars of festivities and frivolity.