Behnaz Babazadeh’s candy burqas challenge cultural stereotypes
(CNN)The image of a veiled woman has become one of the most politically charged images of our time. The head-to-toe burqa, with a slit only for the eyes, is the most controversial of all the modes of veiling from a non-Muslim point of view.
“The Edible Burka” by Afghan-American photographer Behnaz Babazadeh plays on people’s fears — of otherness, of political correctness — to create an unforgettable work that led to a TED talk on her unique cross-cultural practice.
Arriving in the US from Afghanistan (via Iran) as a very young child, Babazadeh remembers the reaction to her desire to wear pretty fabric around her face, as was her custom. It wasn’t considered necessary in her new life.
Then, as a teenager in the aftermath of 9/11, her desire to understand the mores of a country many Americans had scarcely heard of, propelled her towards a creative practice.
An academically trained designer, Babazadeh turned to photography to document her elaborate experimentation. It has become the evidence of her inquiry.
While she was still studying, she heard about a woman in the UK known as Latex Lady, a BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism) submissive who had burqas custom-made in latex as her preferred form of restrictive clothing. Her view of the burqa was as a utilitarian garment that could help her live her daily life; a view diametrically opposed to the usual Western perception of the Taliban’s sartorial preference.
Babazadeh made a film inspired by this attitude — “Burkaphilia” — and also began a series of conversations with her grandmother, through which she came to understand how her culture’s outlawing of intimacy of any kind before marriage left women and men with no idea how to behave on their wedding night.
Babazadeh’s creative response was to further explore the idea of the burqa as a fetish object. The desire to create an edible burqa grew from a personal need to create an East-West dialogue, akin to the one taking place in her own mind.
somebody posted this link in slack this morning at work, and i was pretty amazed… how crazy awesome, right? i mean, i’ve been working with behnaz for the past few years… knew about her continuing thing with the burqa’s, and remember how nervous she was about the TED talk — but damn, still pretty awesome.
congrats behnaz! you go gurl :)