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Notes on dress and ideology 

March 8, 2024: Women's Day... always find this a sort of odd day, with interventions ranging from patronising (discounts at spas and roses handed to secretaries) to re-affirming... like this rally in Istanbul (that's where I was this year, but not at this railly).  A feminist friend was there and he sent me this image... the poster says 'Headscarves are flowing' which, he explained, is a clever word play on the idea of fluidity regarding gender identity i.e. to be 'fluid' (free to identify internally and externally by choice, in terms of gender and personal politics)... but, in this case, free to not be seen in a binary way i.e. conservative vs. progressive, liberated vs. oppressed, based on one's choices... and of course referring to the flow of textiles/clothing/garments, so, perfect for this blog.

Also remembering last year when a friend and I organised a women-only club night in Dhaka, which allowed Muslim women to be able to 'go out' socially in an 'acceptable' way... great female DJs, intergenerational, what a vibe! (love you Mimi!) 

March 5, 2024 Library books are due today and I've had to renew. And having done that, wanted to add a few notes about a meeting I had with two hijabi friends which I've been thinking about over the last couple of weeks.  Z more or less told me to look past the idea of modest dressing and think more about national identity. She knows the history- how the concept of abaya/hijab wearing moved from Iran to Iraq and then to Egypt. We talk about the subjectivities of modesty- and how ideas of modesty can shift. M is a photographer and very attuned to the concept of personal identity.  We discussed the western gaze and the obvious fact that there is more than a single reality.  Also about how every culture subtly imposes norms on all of us.  Finally, I took away from this discussion that the goal of a collaboration should be to work with and not on behalf of people in the community.

Feb 18, 2024:  Made this video last month with the help of friend Sarah Kent as the performer. 


The thought process involves thinking about how, as an older person, it is possible to look back at a wide expanse of time and events and identify events which were important turning points.  In this case, situations where one had expectations that didn't materialise as expected.  Often experienced as a shattering of plans and expectations.


And although these events are unsettling, one just picks up the pieces as moves on, sometimes in a new, possibly better direction.  Not meant to be sentimental.  The first two 'drops' it's unclear if this was an accident or carelessness... the last it is clear the person has agency and took it upon themselves to shatter the vase i.e. destroy the expectation.

Feb 17 2024:  Besides dress and ideology, there is an intersection with aging which I want to explore.  Using video and other lens-based medium,sound and performance, I want to focus on aging and person-specific embodied lived experiences.This is likely to involve collaboration with others through listening, workshops, and mediated performance.


Questions I will ask in the process of making of the work:

• How has time affected perspective?

• How does one’s gender, belief system, culture, motherhood, education, relationships, economic situation,  agency and ability/disability, amongst other factors, intersect with aging and the perspective/experience of the older person?

• What decisions were made?

Feb 16 2024:  Went to the Doha Marathon to observe female athletes and what they wore.  Women athletes wore outfits which ranged from sports bras and tiny shorts to knee length jackets and hijabs, sometimes tightly wrapped and under a baseball-style cap.  Interestingly, it seemed to me that the women who were wearing hijabs and more modest sports kit were amongst the more elite runners.  Maybe a Muslim woman needs to be a committed athlete to work out how to make modest clothing work as sports kit? 


Feb 15 2024:  Went to the Doha National Library and checked out five books:

Was it something I wore: Dress, Identity, Materiality Edited by Relebohile Moletsane

Modest Fashion: Styling Bodies, Meditating Faith, edited by Reina Lewis

Islamic Fashion and Anti-Fashion, edited by Emma Tarlo and Annelies Moors

Dress and Ideology, edited by Shoshana-Rose Marzel and Guy Stiebel

Visibly Muslim: Fashion, Politics, Faith, by Emma Tarlo

"...Islam does not have detailed written dress codes as, for example, ultra-orthodox Judaism does. Rather, there is an oral tradition that mandates that women wear clothes that cover their bodies nearly completely." - Oz Almog, 'How Muslim Women Dress in Israel, from Dress and Ideology


Feb 14 2024:  Sent this image to many of my older women friends with the caption: 'Happy Valentine's day... My fav look from a NYT story about older models: ...Ms. Hay said she planned to keep the models’ faces relatively bare for the runway show. In the past, she has used more theatrical hair and makeup. “Here,” she said, “I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re trying to look younger.”

Lot's of positive feedback.  Wondering why I chose this image.  Red, of course, for Valentine's day, but the short hair, the lack of make up, the lack of a forced smile... all appeal. What does this say about my values? The values of my friends? 

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