Princess Hijab

I discovered Princess Hijab a number of years ago when the conflict over the Burqa ban in Paris was getting news coverage here in the States.   Little is known about Princess Hijab outside of her work. Using a black marker she paints veils on subway the individuals in subway advertisements.  An act she refers to as “hijabizing”.

I find her fascinating, not only her conceptualization of art but also the anonymity and the character she has created.  I cannot figure out exactly what Princess Hijab stands for, the message of her work, or what she is attempting to represent.  I know that she stands against intolerance and wants to call attention to the issues of immigration in France.   However, this doesn’t resolve my confusion, what is it about her work that so intrigues me?

I certainly find it provocative.  As a society, we are so bombarded by images of scantily clad or nearly naked men and women nearly everywhere we look, but I think that we have become desensitized to the point that the sexuality has lost its vigor—for instance, no one seems to find it strange that Abercrombie & Fitch advertisements for the clothes often portray men and women wearing nothing.  By “hijabizing” the advertisement Princess Hijab has forced me to recognize the sexuality of the ad, by covering it she reveals it.   I know this is not her main focus, but for me it has been a substantial consequence of her work, intended or not.

Ed. Note: Here is an article/slideshow about Princess Hijab in the British newspaper The Guardian. You can also follow her on Twitter.


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  1. Chas

    This is brilliant work; I’d never seen it before. This kind of remixing of cultural mainstays like mass advertising really showcases the power of the street art ethic: the idea of intrusion into the public mind – without permission, without fear – inorder to essentially create insight or force that second-look or second-understanding as you had in response to this.

    Just yesterday I was on the subway looking at the stock-image “attractive” women being used to market second-rate “technical” colleges and wished I could clearly and quickly/efficiently draw thought bubbles and comic-book quality captions…. I could spend my whole life challenging the projected culture of advertising.

  2. Kathleen Sweeney

    The simplicity of this remix is also part of its effectiveness. Watching the artist in disguise, at work in the Metro demonstrates how quickly these commentaries can be created…they’re hilarious and beautiful, alluring and mysterious, depending on the context of chosen advertisements….great post!

  3. Stephanie Spiro

    Great post! I’ve never seen this before. It’s so compelling and the black shroud does compel you to look for what you can’t see. It makes me rethink what I take for granted in advertising along the periphery. I wonder if it inspired the french film character Amelie when she began to take photos of herself shrouded in black in public train stations? There’s probably no connection, but… look at the Google images:,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi

    Amelie… a filmic fairytale and salute to Princess Hijab? Doubtful, (more likely Zorro) but I saw some similarities in theme and content, for some reason.

    I just started following her on Twitter. Thanks for the lovely post!

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