Saskia Aukema created a series of photographs around one of the most controversial garments in the Western world: the niqab. The niqab is a veil that covers the entire face, except for the eyes. Several countries have introduced laws that ban the garment. The Dutch government is currently devising a law that will ban the niqab in certain sections of the Dutch society. This made Aukema wonder: who are the women who choose to wear this piece of cloth, despite all the controversy? What about it do they enjoy? She also asked questions that dig a little deeper into the personalities of these women: what is beauty to them and what is it they laugh about?
She decided to portray them, not as the “black boxes” many people see them as, but as colourful individuals, showcasing the garments they prefer to wear at home with their families or at a party among other women. The photos were taken in 2,5 years’ time in Great Britain (where many niqabi women live) and the Netherlands.
The images from the series Veiled are remarkable, because they show us the women wearing their niqab, holding their favourite dresses, shoes and pants in their own homes. Our natural curiosity to see the person beneath the niqab, is met with total openness. But not the kind we think we need. We still do not see a face, but are shown each personality through another piece of fabric we all so closely attach our individuality to. Can we truly see a person beyond what they wear?
Saskia Aukema graduated from the Fotovakschool in Amsterdam, NL, in 2013.