In her concluding project, Nasreen Raja challenges notions of faith and individuality by rejuvenating the traditional face covering
While living in London, the sight of niqaabs on a daily basis was not strange to me, particularly on the tube and around Oxford Street. The covering of the face intrigued me, and I was fascinated by the reactions of the surrounding people, who sometimes responded as if the women weren’t there.
I thought about how our clothing, including colours and prints, demonstrates vividly to society where we come from and how our personalities are formulated. But often, Muslim women who wear the niqaab are categorised only as Muslim women, void of individuality. So I began exploring issues of identity, looking at the mysteriousness of the niqaab, as well as the physical and social barriers in place between the individual and the outside world.
Following this, I designed and created fabrics that were inspired by my own family photographs from Pakistan and my grandmother’s wardrobe. These various textile pieces were then put together to form five different niqaabs. The pieces play with the idea of revealing and concealing, showing what is underneath and what is normally hidden. It is what we wear that presents ideas about who we are and where we come from, and the additional imagery and pattern demonstrate issues relating to identity and faith.
All the pieces in the project are hand dyed and screen printed, alongside digitally printed photographs.
I hope this concept will encourage viewers to think both about the niqaab as well as the person wearing the niqaab.
This project was showcased at the Chelsea College of Art and Design, as part of the Graduate Summer Show 2012. It was also exhibited internationally at the Muslim Jewish conference in Bratislava and Vienna 2012, as well as on campus, at the Smoky Not Smudgy event at Imperial College, London, earlier this year.
Nasreen has also exhibited work at the Mica Gallery, Sloane Square London. She is currently working on creating a collection which will be on sale. To see more of her work, please visit her website, Facebook page and the Chelsea Textile Design website.
Photo Credits: Nasreen Raja
Reclaim Your Stage:
The Platform is a groundbreaking blog that provides current affairs and cultural commentary. Our pieces offer challenging opinions from a range of spectrums; that’s why we love hosting a platform for them.