Putting on the Veil
The Wooster Collective talks to Princess Hijab about hiding the faces of ubiquitous advertising.
Princess Hijab embodies all that we love about billboard liberation. The images are shocking, disturbing, and powerful. A simple black swath completely changes the meaning of the advertisement. The billboards, in the Paris subway system, are carefully chosen-yet the execution, with the classic graffiti artist drips-have the touch of the human hand. With the proliferation of public advertising, much of it on our public transportation, the work of Princess Hijab feels like small but poignant wins against an enormous system.
WOOSTER: Why did you choose the subject matter you did?
PRINCESS HIJAB: Guerrilla art is innocent and criminal, ancient and dystopian, intimate and political. I chose the veil because it does what art should do: It challenges, it frightens, and it re-imagines. I've also found that my media, guerrilla art, presents a mystery and an impishness consistently missing from serious discourses on the hijab. The terms "hijabizing" or "hijabism" continue to define my work.
W: Why did you choose the specific placement?
PH: I use the subway for the same reason the advertisers do: It's a place where the whole city is a captive audience.
W: What do you think your piece adds to or subtracts from to the community?
PH: I think my work might add to the intellectual dialogue on advertising, but I aim for the guttural response. My "desecration" elevates the models back to being people, and when the skin sticks to the pleather, that's the smile and the disgust that I can get out of people.
W: What type of reaction did you get from the community?
PH: Earlier supporters of my work saw it as a political statement, but I think people are starting to get the intimate "otherness" in it.
W: Is there a story about putting it up?
PH: White by day, black by night.
W: What is inspiring to you now?
PH: L'Anti-monde by Roger Brunet, gender, identity, sense of "self," public space, darkness, attitude, fashion...
To see more of Princess Hijab's work, visit her website. To see more great street art, visit the Wooster Collective.
Photos by Christophe Meireis except top, by Anoine Breant.