Princess Hijab is an anonymous street artist working primarily in Paris. Its art centres on veiling the main characters on subway advertisements using black paint. Few facts are known about Princess Hijab except that this person was born in 1988, that much of their known work has appeared in metro stations across Paris.
Princess Hijab is recognized as the founder of “hijabism”, a movement based on the “niqabizing”, or “hijabizing” of advertising images. It is widely recognized for its iconic images of veiled girls, boys and courting couples on advertising posters, which reference contemporary culture, celebrity culture and the world of fashion. Its humour attempts to expose contradictions inherent in mainstream culture.
One of its more celebrated works, “Diam’s Ma France à Moi”, is the portrait of the famous French rapper Diam’s, covered with a veil using a black marker pen. Notoriously, the hijabised version of the poster appeared in Paris several years before Diams was first spotted wearing the hijab following her conversion to Islam. The original poster is a re-interpretation of a photograph by David LaChapelle.
Other famous works by Princess Hijab include the “Lafayette” series, depicting a model promoting the French department store Galeries Lafayette, wearing a blue, white and red striped top and a black mask over her mouth, and the “Dolche” series, a series of Dolce & Gabbana adverts representing male models hijabised by the artist.
Despite the controversy surrounding its work, Princess Hijab insists that it is not involved in any political or religious lobbies and has no links with the advertising industry: “She [Princess Hijab] is the leader of an artistic fight, nothing else”.
Princess Hijab on the Paris Metro in November 2010
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”
She sees herself as part of a new “grafitti of minorities” reclaiming the streets
The work now usually only stays up for 45-minutes to an hour before being ripped down by officials
As a result PH has become highly selective, only doing around four to five grafitti “interventions” in year
Each is carefully photographed and has its own afterlife circulating online
H&M is one of the artist’s favourite targets
Of her work, she comments: “If it was only about the burqa ban, my work wouldn’t have a resonance for very long. But I think the burqa ban has given a global visibility to the issue of integration in France”
And what is the significance of Islam to her? “The spiritual interests me, but that’s personal, I don’t think it bears on my work. Religion interests me, Muslims interest me and the impact they can have, artistically, aesthetically, in the codes that are all around us, particularly in fashion”