Princess Hijab! (or, Pageantry as Code Scrambler)

by on Feb.10, 2012

Awhile ago, I think while we were chatting about Zurita, I mentioned the teenage protestors in Ciudad Juarez who’ve begun showing up at crime scenes dressed as angels. They are really, really young:

For some time now, I’ve been meaning to share my love of Princess Hijab, a graffiti artist who works in the Paris metro “hijabizing,” well, everyone:

From  The Guardian: “…her simple, almost childlike acts of sabotage with a black marker pen still manage to be the most unsettling, with the widest audience abroad. Yet who is she? A French Muslim woman in hijab raging at the system? That would be a rare thing on Paris’s male-dominated graffiti scene. Is she a religious fundamentalist making a point about female flesh? But she likes to leaves a witty smattering of buttock cheeks and midriff on display. If she’s a leftwing feminist making a point about the exploitation of women, it’s odd that she always flees the scene of her crimes. Is she even Muslim? Her fans like to imagine a young rebel outsider from Paris’s suburban ghettos travelling to the capital to make her mark. But like Paris’s greatest street artist, Blek le Rat — who inspired Britain’s Bansky — she could turn out to be a fiftysomething white man who voted for Sarkozy…”

The Bewitching Princess Hijab

What I love about Princess Hijab’s work is the way her images refuse decoding, despite everyone’s attempts to sleuth, track down, classify her work. They unsettle the viewer’s cultural and psychological assumptions, the consistency of their “tastes,” values, memories, all of which foments a crisis of our relationship to visual culture.

From Bitch magazine: “Princess Hijab asserts, her dressing up of billboards is a symbolic act of resistance meant to reassert a “physical and mental integrity” against what she calls the “visual terrorism” of advertising.”

Princess Hijab says, ‘My work explores how something as intimate as the human body has become as distant as a message from your corporate sponsor… Like that poster of Farah Fawcett with her teeth clenched in fear above her perfect polyester swimswuit. When she revealed her cancer, we had to see her and her body as something capable of tragedy.’

Again from Bitch magazine: “She uses such a contested icon to wreak artistic revenge on the dual constructs of advertising and social prejudice means her work is ultimately as much about the interpretation of others as it is about her own intent.”

“People are confused by me,” admits Princess Hijab. “Some say I am pro-feminist, some say I am antifeminist; some say I am pro-Islam, others that I am anti-Islam. It’s all very interesting—but at the end of the day, I am above all an artist.”


2 comments for this entry:
  1. Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle

    I love you Lara Glenum and I’m going to attempt a historic act . . .

    “Over the past seven months I’ve left you dozens of poems, letters and love messages in the faint hope that you could develop an interest in me. Although we talked on the phone a couple of times I never had the nerve to simply approach you and introduce myself. […] The reason I’m going ahead with this attempt now is because I cannot wait any longer to impress you.

    — John Hinckley, Jr. (attempted Reagan assassin) to Jodie Foster.

  2. Lara Glenum

    O you impress, Geoffery! Impress impress indeed.