I am a Turkish-Dutch muslim woman from Utrecht. I employ my sociological knowledge to make people think about social inequalities and underrepresented perspectives. Both in the context of my photography practice and outside of it, I work on themes related to inequality of opportunities, migration and islam, image formation, citizenship, discrimination and racism, identity and (super)diversity and inclusion. I want to contribute to the creation of different (visual) stories of these themes. As a photography, I develop series with a social impact, which form the starting point for conversation in society. The stories, images and (image)makers I see around me do not represent society at large. There are so many stories which haven’t yet been told, so many identities we do not yet see, and so many more perspectives we do not yet know. I want to make this visible and contribute to a more inclusive society.
Hijabverhalen (Hijab Stories) is a series of 21 portraits of muslim women with their special hijab. Too often we speak about muslim women instead of with them. Geert Wilders dreams of a country without headscarves, their dominating image is still one of oppression, and media representation only shows one type of muslim woman; continuous stereotyping which bores and invites a different story. Research by Motivacation shows that the majority (93%) of headscarf wearing muslim women in The Netherlands wears their scarf with pride. How many of the existing stories represent this pride? What does the hijab mean for the woman who wear it? How does it contribute to the way they want to, are allowed to and can move in society? And how do these women make space for their hijab in their house or room? In Hijabverhalen, I search for answers to these questions. In 2020 I went out with my camera and a bag filled with colourful fabrics. The result is a series of photos of 21 women from all over the Netherlands, what you see; a wealth of different scarves, women and stories that share the layered identity of the hijab-wearing muslim woman in the Netherlands.
What challenges have you faced making this work?
I “simply” started this project at my own initiative. All the developments that came after evolved in the process. That was new for me, but a challenge that I want to take up more often in the future.
I am moved to create something that catches the eye, intrigues the mind, and engages your attention. I want to show you these details you don’t see, that help make the bigger picture. I like to be realistic, no matter how dark reality can be. I like to show the faces of the battles we see, not just the battle itself. It’s important to give everyone their rightful voice and I use my lens as a way to provide that.
How are you going to develop this project further?
After this, I want to research the wider position of the muslim woman in society and capture its (visual) stories.
What has the lighthouse program done for you?
The Lighthouse program allowed me to broaden my perspective. I got the opportunity to meet various makers and exchange with professionals to further develop myself as a photographer. This was extremely valuable.
In this podcast, Ebru Aydin speaks to Jennifer Muntslag: performance artist, creative and moderator. Through Aydin’s project Hijabverhalen, they speak about telling visual stories about women with a hijab.