Two pieces of work, that I've been working on to accompany my essay. These two Niqab will be worked on with extra drawings, and when more women will become involved, I will start work on further Niqab pieces. The actual textile pieces were exhibited, along with these photographs at the multimedia event, Mutiny for 'Violence on Trial' at the Resistance Gallery in Bethnal Green.
In this piece of work - Niqab: Just a Piece of Cloth, the artist has asked Muslim women who wear the niqab, what the veil means to them; regarding dress, identity, and their faith. The installation is meant to challenge the harmful attitude that Muslim women who adopt the niqab are forced by others to do so, and are in need of protection. It aims to voice women's words on their own valid decisions to wear this controversial item of clothing.
“Muslim women were portrayed as oppressed, abused, uneducated, powerless and far most dehumanized, because of Islam and its teachings, but anyone who understands the true teachings of Islam would understand the status that Muslim women are given in Islam. The point I wanted to make was the fact I lived in a so called democratic country, where I was given the freedom to address others anyway that I wanted, and I chose to wear the niqab.” Ardo, Ottowa
In response to the new legislation coming into force in France, against wearing the Niqab or Burqa in public areas, there has been a rise in islamophobia and an attitude of violence towards Muslim women, and not only in France, but increasingly a backlash is emerging in other parts of the western world, as more and more politicians are using the image of head covering as a threat to civil rights, and are encouraging fear of and suspicion of Muslims. Because women who cover, are easily identifiable, it makes them a target for abuse. And suddenly it becomes not just about freedom of religion, or dress codes, but about gender.
I want to challenge people's perceptions of covering, because if we have the liberty to show flesh and skin, we should have the liberty to cover up too. Religious or not, it is a form of identity, a form of dress, and a personal choice of modesty. I ideally would like to deconstruct the deeper meanings, and bring head covering back to being just a part of dress, just a scarf.
This idea of women having control over their own bodies, is still a battle, and I really want to create some work that says, I'm making a choice about covering, and I'm making an informed and educated choice, and I am free to wear what I wish; look beyond the scarf.