New Criticals

Princess’s “hijabizing” of male underwear models in Dolce&Gabbana ads redirects the viewer's attention to an under-discussed queer politics circulating within the appropriaiton and deployment of the veil in popular culture. This ad, which features five swimmers of the Italian National team (Emiliano Brembilla, Paolo Bossini, Alessandro Terrin, Mirko Di Tora, and Nicola Cassio) who competed in the World Swimming Championships in July 2009, sells an image of white-washed, classicly sculpted and "perfected" male bodies (ostensibly anticipating the dialogue sparked by the media's heightened interest in hijab-wearing female athletes at the London 2012 Olympics). The ad campaign, which was set in the swimming pools of the historical Circolo Aniene di Roma, and shot by internationally acclaimed Peruvian photographer Mariano Vivanco, appeared in issues and markets around the world in July and August of that year.

Despite the dozen or so published responses to Princess Hijab’s work, discussion of her queering of the hijab’s status as a marker of controlled female sexuality through the ephemerally, imposed hijab drag, remains neglected, if not deliberately unattended. Too many bloggers and interpretators end their investigation of Princess Hijab's work with questions concerning only the artist's own intentions and biography. It is not the artist's own personal biases, however, but her posturing of the hijab as a vehicle for an encounter with the marginalized, but ever present queer global citizen. It is here, through this lens, that the work opens up onto salient dialogues about the entangled economies of surveillance and consumption today.