Heads up! Art video of fancy hijabs screening at Barclays Center

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They’ll be queens of the screen!

Giant women wearing high-fashion hijabs decked out like elaborate Easter bonnets will soon look down on those walking past Barclays Center. The fashionable females will appear on the giant circular video screen in front of the sports arena as part of the Public Art Fund’s “Commercial Break” exhibition, running from Feb. 6 to March 5. The 30-second fake ad promoting holiday hijabs, created by Brooklyn artist Meriem Benanni, is a playful twist on the usual portrayal of Muslim women in the media, says one of the project’s curators.

“Seeing the situation that we’re currently living and obviously before the election, Meriem was very concerned and distraught about the Islamophobia that’s going on around the world today —especially in America — and wanted to make a statement that really was a message of inclusion celebrating differences,” said Daniel Palmer, of the Public Art Fund.

The 30-second video advertises a fictional line of hijabs, and features two models showing elaborate and sometimes impractical headscarves decorated for various holidays — including American classics such as Independence Day (printed with American flags) and Black History Month (an image of a fist giving the black power salute), and the Islamic holidays including Nowruz (featuring grass and colored eggs perched above the hijab). The ad is designed to show the importance of bringing the Islamic calendar together with the secular, according to Palmer.

The clip, titled “Your Year by Fardaous Funjab,” continues Benanni’s satiric video series about a fictional hijab designer, who creates outfits topped with wedding cakes, baskets for tennis balls, or decorated with the Metallica logo. “Your Year” will air once per hour each Saturday during the run of “Commercial Break,” with videos from six other artists appearing during the other days of the week. The other clips include New York artist Jacolby Satterwhite’s “virtual reality” video inspired by a collaboration with musician Nick Weiss, and a series of abstract colors and shapes that flows according to an algorithm, by artist Tabor Robak.

“Commercial Break” is an updated take on the Public Art Fund’s exhibition series “Messages to the Public,” which ran in Manhattan’s Times Square from 1982–1990, which similarly disrupted advertising with art. Each of the 30-second videos will play once per hour on their dedicated days of the week, a strategy the artist group uses to mimic advertising and to keep people thinking about the messages.

“We really wanted these ads to run in the cycle as frequently as possible,” Palmer said. “We thought the repetition of an ad is important to ingrain it in people’s heads and we wanted to make sure that we did the same thing with the art.”

“Commercial Break” at Barclays Center Oculus screen (620 Atlantic Ave. at Flatbush Ave. in Prospect Heights, Feb. 6–March 5. Free.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Boris from Borough Park says:
Another feel good celebration of totalitarian symbols. Why not a playful display of Confederate flags, or a "Fun with Swastikas" video tribute?
Feb. 6, 2017, 12:49 pm

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