The Burqa Issue. OF NOTE Magazine. 2016 The Burqa Issue. OF NOTE magazine. 2016 - Page 2

OF NOTE is an award-winning online magazine that features global artists using the arts as tools for social change. The magazine is a digital space where Art meets Activism. OF NOTE Magazine is free to readers, free of advertising, and free of subscriptions — all made possible by generous supporters like you. Your tax-deductible gift will help us continue to feature innovative and emerging  global artists using the  arts as tools for social change. Donate here. OF NOTE Magazine is a fiscally sponsored organization of the New York Foundation for the Arts, a 501 (c) (3), tax-exempt organization. All donations are 100% tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. *New York Foundation for the Arts’s Federal Tax ID# is 23-7129564. Grace Aneiza Ali editorial director’s note The burqa—an aesthetically stunning style of the veil, usually blue or black, with a mesh over the eyes—has evolved into the controversial and the divisive. No longer is it seen as a garment worn by some Muslim women to cover their bodies in public, a marker of religious identity, a desire to separate spiritual space from the outside world. It is now symbol—of oppression, of religious freedom, of citizenship. OF NOTE Magazine Staff Advisory Council Grace Aneiza Ali Editorial Director & Founder Kathy Engel Sally Ann Hard Allen McFarlane E. Ethelbert Miller Zita Nunes, Ph.D Samuel Roberts, Ph.D Celeste Hamilton Dennis Editor While many employ the burqa as fodder for debate, the Artists Of Note we’ve selected for The Burqa Issue use their creative voice and art practice to examine the complicated experiences of the women who actually wear the burqa—by choice or by force. These multi-disciplinary global artists employ the burqa, actual and symbolic, in their photography, documentary film, poetry, graffiti, street art, murals, sculpture and painting, to trouble our perceptions. While their art questions, provokes, defends, indicts, or unapologetically takes a stance for or against the burqa, it is art that is first and foremost deeply personal, before it is political. Each of these women know intimately, and at times painfully, how the world encounters women donned in burqas because they have worn them or borne witness to stories of the women they love—their mothers, sisters, aunts, matriarchs and friends—who have. It is this offering of their deeply personal and intimate art that allows us to probe the contradictory and counter the political: Mahnaz Rezaie Guest Digital Curator How do we de-politicize the burqa? How does dress become so intertwined with religion? With citizenship? Is the binary that the burqa is either a tool of oppression or a symbol of religious freedom Karran Sahadeo Graphic Designer 2 OF NOTE 3 a failure? How are our debates and intellectualisms failing the very women who wear the garment? Can we honor a woman’s desire for the sacred solace the burqa offers? Can we find value in a spiritual philosophy that a woman’s body is not for public consumption? Although none of the artists take on the role of a spokesperson, here in this issue, women speak for women. The team behind The Burqa Issue are all women. They bring to bear roots from Afghanistan, Algeria, Canada, Guyana, India, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, and the United States to elevate the voices of the women who wear the burqa. Many of the writers who collaborated with the artists to write their stories entered into these cross-continent conversations bravely—they either knew little about the politics that enshrouds the burqa, or they subscribed to the view of the burqa as symbolic of the physical and psychological oppression of women, or they believed that banning a woman from wearing a burqa is equally oppressive as forcing her to wear it. After our writers filed their stories, each of them had their stances disrupted— and beautifully so. The Burqa Issue is not prescriptive. We offer no blueprint to our readers on what stance they should take, we only unveil how deeply complex the burqa is. As a means to understand the burqa in all its beauty, contradictions, and failures we turn to Art. Not because the art of the burqa grants us answers. But because, to echo the words of Princess Hijab, the Paris-based artist who employs the veil as a symbol in her street art: “I choose the veil because it does what art should do: It challenges, it frightens, and it re-imagines.” OF NOTE