New Criticals

On her blog, Princess Hijab’s manifesto denies her association with any group: "Don’t forget," the artist demands, "[Princess Hijab] acts upon her own free will. She is not involved in any lobby or movement be it political, religious or to do with advertising. In fact, the Princess is an insomniac-punk. She is the leader of an artistic fight, nothing else" [2].  Despite her claims of self-interested anti-consumerism, Princess Hijab engages both the notion of "spectacle" as proposed by the French Situationists in the 1960s [3],  and Western feminist readings of the headscarf as a symbol of women’s oppression [4]. Through this amalgamation of theoretical moorings and methodological practices, Princess Hijab creates her unsettling critique of capitalist consumerism that cunningly underscores a perversely religious devotion to commodity culture.

Framed by the Paris metro, an underground space informed by a long history of sexual encounter forcibly hidden or erased from the script of the functional, readable design of the city, adds another layer of significance to the larger implications of Princess’s “hijabizing” effect. Endemic of its very medium—which “criminally” alters and polices State-sanctioned spaces—Princess Hijab’s tags necessitate looking by way of unlawful encounters mobilized by bodies within the urban narrative. As Norman Mailer writes in “The Faith of Graffiti” (1974), “graffiti is your presence on their Presence…hanging your alias on their scene” [5].  Thus, graffiti performs a similarly subversive reclaiming of public space, as that performed by the hijab, which takes back segments of Western public space in the name of an exoticized, interior privacy.