This billboard is up at the intersection of University Avenue and Vandalia Street in St. Paul, and it’s confusing the hell out of people.
screenshot from an instagram story. WTF is this billboard in st. paul?? pic.twitter.com/UOUAuqWlbm— taylr (@taylr) October 7, 2019
Without much context, people are struggling to make sense of it online.
Think it's been hacked— �������� (@Zeke_Wright) October 7, 2019
@MemesSurreal has come to life— boo stuff �� (@pyry) October 7, 2019
So, here’s what’s going on: The billboard is referencing the Minnesota Museum of American Art’s new exhibition, “History Is Not Here: Art and the Arab Imaginary.” Co-produced by local Arab literary journal Mizna, the group show features Arab and non-Arab artists from Northern Africa and Southwest Asia who are commenting on stereotypes and misconceptions about Arab people and culture.
The billboard showcases the work of Raed Yassin, a Beirut artist based in Germany. In his photography series, “Self Portraits with Foreign Fruits and Vegetables,” he poses with imported fruits and veggies, juxtaposing people’s fear of immigrants with our desire for imported foods.
The attention-grabbing billboard appears to be continuing with this theme of xenophobia versus the luxury of exotic produce.
City Pages contributing writer Sheila Regan checked out the exhibition when it first opened at the MMAA. You can read her thoughts on the show here.