Princess Hijab is a street artist in Paris who uses dripping black paint to cover models in subway ads, giving them niqabs. Veils.
As Angelique Chrisafis writes for the Guardian, Princess Hijab started doing this before the French government banned the niqab from public spaces. But her artwork certainly raises many questions and provokes varied responses and emotions. She's doing something illegal — graffiti — to highlight something illegal — wearing the veil. She's also injecting religion into secular, consumer-oriented images. Veil-wearing Muslim women shop, but how often do they see themselves in ads? In addition, there's an element of universality that comes through, as though the work is saying, that woman under the veil could be anyone — an intellectual, a flirt, a seductress. The nature of advertising asks that you imagine yourself in the place of the models shilling goods; Princess Hijab's work may be asking us to consider, that could be me under that niquab.
All of this is made even more interesting when you read:
The twentysomething doesn't wear the niqab that has become her own signature. She won't say if she's a Muslim. In fact, it's more than likely that Princess Hijab isn't even a woman.
That said, what is clear is that Princess Hijab doesn't think of her art as "just" graffiti; she writes to the reporter:
The veil has many hidden meanings, it can be as profane as it is sacred, consumerist and sanctimonious. From Arabic Gothicism to the condition of man. The interpretations are numerous and of course it carries great symbolism on race, sexuality and real and imagined geography."
View a slideshow of the artwork here.