The Burqa Issue. OF NOTE Magazine. 2016 The Burqa Issue. OF NOTE magazine. 2016 - Page 10

Q: What sparked your interest in the burqa as a device, a metaphor? A: I am confused, curious, fascinated, repelled, inspired, bemused and aggravated by the burqa. So I thoroughly enjoy investigating Muslim subcultures that use it in rebellious ways: to illustrate creative, politically charged opinions. I befriended someone who identifies with being a queer Muslim, closeted due to fear of alienating family and immense societal pressure. I discovered that several of the LGBTQI community in Iran and Saudi Arabia use the chador, niqab and burqa to cross-dress. This allows them to travel to private parties and express taboo love in these exceedingly restrictive and policed societies, where their actions are considered deviant and punishable. On the other hand, when I was doing photographic work on the outskirts of Karachi, a particular family stood out. Women in burqas, children on their hips, groceries in hand, awkwardly attempting to cross a puddle while protecting their robes. It was their shoes that left me mesmerized: beautiful rhinestone-decorated heels, hennaed feet. Their feet were the only way they could express a fashionable identity. That image stayed for a long time. Q: You’ve done this extraordinary intervention with color, begging the question: Are we supposed to look, or not? A: The photos on the burqa I’ve done predominantly black and white to further convey those dual and contradictory tendencies. I used a red burqa I found online (pictured above) that stood out like a sore thumb. It’s meant to protect and guard a woman’s modesty and body from unwanted predators. There was something utterly sensual and provocative about the blazing color, demanding attention and attraction. The contradictions were thrilling, so I’ve been experimenting with that lately. I recently The Lost Afghan Girl. © Mariam Magsi, 2014. Courtesy of the artist. 10 OF NOTE 11 OF NOTE