Guardian Journalist Interviews Paris’ Princess Hijab

The Guardian – November 11, 2010
Princess Hijab is Paris’s most elusive street artist. Striking at night with dripping black paint she slaps black Muslim veils on the half-naked airbrushed women – and men – of the metro’s fashion adverts. She calls it “hijabisation”. Her guerrilla niqab art has been exhibited from New York to Vienna, sparking debates about feminism and fundamentalism – yet her identity remains a mystery.
The Princess’s first graffiti veil was in 2006, the “niqabisation” of the album poster of France’s most famous female rapper, Diam’s, who by strange coincidence has now converted to Islam herself. With the Paris metro protective of its advertising spaces, her work now usually stays up for only 45 minutes to an hour before being ripped down by officials. She has become highly selective, doing only four or five graffiti “interventions” in Paris a year. But each is carefully photographed and has its own afterlife circulating online.

Guerilla street artist Princess Hijab “hijabizes” advertisements in Paris

A young Paris-based guerilla street artist who calls herself Princess Hijab has been “hijabizing” advertisements, spray-painting veils and body-length chadors onto the lightly dressed models. The mysterious artist, who remains anonymous, says she is fighting Jihad through art.

In the online gallery of her “hijabizing” of ad campaigns, lightly clad models in ads for Virgin Music and various clothing companies have been re-dressed by the Princess in veils and chadors, their eyes popping out of face-covering hijabs. They are striking as much as they are irreverent, and they have caused anger in both Muslim and secular circles.

Princess Hijab claims that her hijab campaigns are not plastered on the streets of Paris as an act of “art for art’s sake”, but instead represent a part of what she calls “art propositions for a more global idea.” In this global idea, Princess Hijab pursues what she calls her “noble cause”, or her “anti-advertising movement” in an attempt to fight today’s mainstream and sexist consumerism.

Her works will be on display in an exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York between May 22 and August 29, 2009. The exhibition “The Seen and the Hidden: Dis_Covering the Veil” is going to show numerous pieces of art around the veil, including also Marjane Satrapi’s famous graphic novels and many other works of (Western) Muslim artists.

Princess Hijab’s websites:
Personal Website
MySpace Page

More information:
“The Seen and the Hidden: Dis_Covering the Veil”
May 22 to Aug 29, 2009
Austrian Cultural Forum, New York
Event Website