08 March 2009

PRINCESS HIJAB: "A naughty girl with a bad habit"

From ph
Who is Princess Hijab or more importantly what is Princess Hijab about ? She is known as an unseen character “fighting for a cause” by subverting commercial images within the public sphere. The French artist behind Princess Hijab “hijabizes” adverts by drawing black hijabs onto subway posters of celebrities or models and also fly-posts streets with the ‘Hijab-ad’ prints of a young veiled woman. Her street art, and more significantly her NetArt (animated GIFs; social networks such as MySpace, Flickr, etc) have attracted international media attention and have also generated a great deal of public interest.
From ph
‘Princess Hijab’ artwork is often regarded as unsettling or even disturbing because it challenges and questions political and social issues relating to female
gender and identity. Her controversial art cleverly plays on the boundaries between social determinism and individual freedom hrough the symbol of the veil: where does one’s free choice of personal expression supersede the influence of our consumer society? The transvestite image of a half-naked Dior woman whose eyes shine out of a black veil is strikingly intriguing and ambiguous. The hijab intensifies the expression in the eyes, thus veiling certain human attributes while uncovering others.
But what can be said of the artwork in itself? In all likelihood, we are entering a new dawn of art which is so democratic it circulates at an incredible speed on the web and takes on an organic life of its own. Evidently, many artists (such as ArtRebels and the fashion-designer Girbaux’s campaign 2008, bellow) have been directly inspired by the iconic graphism of Princess Hijab, using her as a symbol of anti-conformism in the urban trend of “Guerrilla Art”.
From ph
The Princess has clearly become an iconic figure of rebellion for the hooded graffitti artist. One might say Internet is the perfect public/private sphere for people to express themselves without infringing on others, but for art to reach out shouldn’t it contain an element of violence?

Princess Hijab’s strength is that she makes people think. She makes people of all ages and class think about religion, identity, politics, ethics, philosophy and art. She triggers endless debates on issues relating to all these subjects on Internet. As for her own beliefs, what she is mainly interested in is her artwork and its impact on society. The artist states: “Princess Hijab is the allegory of a matrix”. This must mean that she generates a profusion of ideas, energy and creation. So beyond the positive or negative connotations of the veil, the Princess is representative of the symbolist, evolutionary but also cyclical nature of art. However the artist, whose fame has considerably grown through the use of Internet, admits she is disheartened about other artists copying and selling her specific imagery. But the world of art as well as Internet are inevitably two-sided: as an artist’s recognition grows he also inspires, influences or might one say ‘impregnates’ other artists. In all likelihood, the artist’s creation – Princess Hijab – has spun out of control into the sphere of collective symbols. The artist is thus experiencing an inner battle between wanting others to take part in her art and then her own hubris is drawing the princess back into her inner being. After all, she does mention: “she is a schizophrenic, by day she is pure and by night she is out to avenge herself”, which obviously replicates the daily activities of the artist. What is more, the artist explains that PH has internalised the allegory of the veiled woman which transpires in her attitude of being a secret, shadowy woman, pulling all the strings. She has proclaimed that “the act of murderring images is a contemporary concept”. Could her iconoclastic acts of violence be a reaction to the omnipresence of images in our society?
From ph
At the height of her art, the artist flooded her MySpace page with animated GIFs in which a pink unicorn or else a pack of wolves are set along side the Princess. She mentions that the pink unicorn is a “Geek atheist symbol” within Internet culture. The artist describes Princess Hijab as a “meme”, or in other words, “a recurring symbol”. The unicorn is also a symbol of feminine sensual spirituality and the wolves could symbolise Man’s wilder impulses. The artist explains that she chose these symbols, which belong to the realm of mythology and popular culture, in order to remove the hijab from its Muslim context and reinvest it with a “Pop dimension”. These two symbols are also evocative of her split self which is sublime and innocent by day but untamed and murderous by night. She is an oddity alright, a living paradox, a figure of divine wonder, transgression and metamorphosis. Cocorosie was undoubtedly inspired by PH in her video clip in which animated GIFs combine the hijab with the unicorn in electrifying colour compositions.
From ph


From ph
To understand Princess Hijab’s art is to question the incongruities of our society. In this era of extreme visual marketing, Princess Hijab explores notions of space and representation, challenging people’s ideas on normative types of representations with the distinctive black veil. Her work is the living example of how symbolist imagery is woven in or out of the social landscape in order to question its motley texture through art.

Written by Tatiana Soubielle

¹ GIF: graphics interchange format

From ph
From ph

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://velocityblog.tumblr.com/post/95877510/an-interview-with-one-of-the-young-pioneers-of

Anonymous said...

http://www.good.is/post/putting-on-the-veil/