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Alisa Heil engages local community through her project ‘Veiled’.
“I was spending the day with Jonathan Hallam (Fashion Photographer) in Whitechapel – the area I live in – doing ordinary market shopping, yet, at the same time, an anthropological experiment (caused by environmental and social forces).
I am veiled just like most women that do their shopping in Whitechapel. My veil is made out of black velvet and hair that covers my face.
Why I chose this peculiar appearance is due to a desire for participation and communication within the public sphere of my neighbourhood – using the theatrical as a process of intensification by drawing upon the possibility of making the absurd a form of critique. A critique on the facelessness and anonymity of urban life.
However, it happens I find myself surrounded by woman of different ethnic groups, willing to talk to me about what I was doing. I am explaining, not myself but my action and my craving for interaction while they reveal part of their identities and beliefs.
More than 15 women stand in a circle talking about matters such as religion, beauty, freedom of speech, marriage, womanhood, being an immigrant, territory and so on. What begun as a tense argument, based on my ‘undemocratic’ approach, results in a deeper dialogue.
When Jonathan and I left the market, filled with thoughts, an elderly nun passes by and we ask her to take a photograph of us. She willingly agrees, without asking questions about my strange guise or the purpose of the picture – and without knowing it, she expands the meaning of this whole experience.
What you now see, printed on a veil is not documentation, nor a representation of this precise day but rather an emblematic image/object linked to various subjects – an object that demands life beyond representation in order to question given structures (not least the way we present live-art/action)”.