We're all familiar with street artists who use adverts for their art and message, it's been a major part of counter culture since the Billboard liberation front went mainstream in the 90s. You might recall some famous examples, such as the decapitator who removes people (mainly women's) heads in ads, and was cheekily mocked by Words & Pictures who translated his message to be "Die Bitch". Princess Hijab covers both men and women when she hijabizes advertising. She raises the question of "why hiding a face behind a veil is considered to be more of a repressive act than hiding one behind airbrushing and media gloss."
"Princess Hijab knows that L’Oréal and Dark & Lovely have been killing her little by little. With her spray paint and black marker pen, she is out to hijabize advertising. Even Kate Moss is targeted. By day, she wears a white veil, symbol of purity. By night, her black veil is the expression of her vengeful fight for a cause," states Princess Hijab in her manifesto.
Although little is publicly known about the elusive artist (her Wikipedia page tells us only that she was born in 1988, that much of her known work has appeared in metro stations across Paris, and that she was the founder of the hijab-ad collective, a movement involving artists from across France), never has the debate about the face veil which her work inevitably provokes raged so violently across Europe.
In a speech made in June, French President Nicholas Sarkozy said of the Burka "We cannot accept, in our country, women imprisoned behind a mesh, cut off from society, deprived of all identity", while at the same time in our highly affluent Western World, where never has the pressure to buy a successful identity and spend money maintaining it been greater, depression is ten times more common than in developing countries. We are constantly assaulted with images selling us the latest 'must have' product; in the film the artist notes that the most difficult adverts to get to are "These Images protected by cameras, the ones for luxury goods...Somehow they are even more protected than human beings."
Despite the controversy surrounding her work, Princess Hijab insists that she is not involved in any political or religious lobbies and has no links with the advertising industry, and has been quoted as saying “She [Princess Hijab] is the leader of an artistic fight, nothing else”. Still, the ongoing religious, legal and political battle surrounding the wearing of the veil makes her work a hot topic likely to hold relevance for the foreseeable future