Muslim Women in Contemporary Visual Arts; The Veil as a Trope


  • Rawya Aljared Jeddah University



the veil, contemporary visual art, Muslim women, autonomy and heteronomy


The veil as a trope in contemporary art is used to serve multiple narratives that complicate how it is understood in modern days. These multiple narratives assist in freeing the veil from past accounts that associate it (the veil) with oppression and misogynies. This paper studies the multiple interpretations of the veil as oppressive, simulacra and decorative as well as a representation of identity in contemporary visual art by female artists, and focuses on artworks that use the veil as a central component of the art piece: Women of Allah, 1993-1997 by Shirin Neshat; the Converging Territory series, 2004by Lalla Essaydi and The Hijab series, 2001 by Bushra Almutawakel.   The complexity of the representation of the veil was scrutinized by Stewart Motha (2007) where he critically analyzed the views of the veil between feminism and secularism as its rooted on ideas of autonomy and heteronomy. The paper also studies notions of autonomy and heteronomy in feminist discourse to shed light on the challenging use of the veil to advocate for women’s rights in artwork. The paper uses Motha’s views as a lens through which to discuss Western feminism.