In The Wandering Veil, Leila Syed-Fatemi reflects on her personal experience as a Muslim woman engaged in the spiritual and intimate act of worship. This series of self-portraits considers the depth of meaning that the veil embodies; a practice symbolic of both esoteric and exoteric life.
Setting the anonymous figure in primarily unrecognizable but sublime landscapes, Fatemi seeks to depict facets of existence beyond physical representation, rooted in spirituality and often sought through religion and nature. Enhanced by the ethereal imagery, the atmosphere created in the photographs exudes peace, tranquility, isolation, and spirituality. The veil creates a private space for the figure, free from the viewer’s gaze, allowing her to continue her calm consideration of the world and her place within it. The anonymity of the figure invites the viewers to project themselves within each landscape and to contemplate the spiritual aura contained therein.
The Wandering Veil offers the viewer a sense of unbound freedom of spirit that comes from the greater experience of wearing the veil. With these psychological landscapes, Fatemi attempts to free the veil of outside interpretation and, instead, explore her own experience as a veil wearer: one of reflection, meditation, serenity and wandering. This ultimately allows for a broader discourse that moves beyond the politically charged associations of the veil as a symbol of oppression.
For more works by Leila Syed-Fatemi, please visit her website.