We are delighted to welcome Dr Siobhán Shilton from the University of Bristol on April 26th. Her paper is entitled:

“Representing the Unrepresentable: France and Islam in performance art, graffiti and digital media”

This paper addresses distinctively visual means of presenting ‘Islam’ – particularly the practice of veiling – in ways that resist singular readings. It focuses primarily on the work of Paris-based artists Majida Khattari and the anonymous ‘Princess Hijab’. Khattari designs costumes inspired by diverse types of hijab, which she then presents in a new form, which she calls the défilé-performance, performances which take the form of fashion shows. The graffiti artist Princess Hijab works in the Paris metro at night, daubing veils onto the faces of women and men on fashion advertisements with a black marker pen. The posters are removed by officials, but each is carefully photographed by the artist and circulated online. Drawing on a combination of visual studies and postcolonial studies (both Francophone and Anglophone), this paper asks how contemporary artwork demonstrates visual – or multisensorial – relational, transcultural aesthetics, in parallel to its more commonly studied literary counterparts. It shows how artwork spurs a re-thinking of postcolonial concepts, such as ‘transculturation’ and ‘counterpoint’. It argues that ‘postcolonial’, transnational art resonates both with postcolonial thought and enduring artistic preoccupations and practices in its forging of a visual language with which to evoke alterity, or ‘represent the unrepresentable’.

5pm, F30, Hicks Building, University of Sheffield