The Muslim veil is a heavily charged site in mainstream Western culture and media. However, its continued use as a visual shorthand for the oppressed Muslim woman, and by extension for the misogyny and violence of Islam, stands in sharp contrast to the numerous depictions of the veil present in contemporary artistic practice. This article analyzes mainstream representations of the veil and their various subtexts, before charting three alternative narratives of the veil found in contemporary art produced by artists of Muslim descent who now exhibit, and often live, in Europe and North America. The specific works examined and the new narratives of the veil they bring forward reorient the gaze. By displacing the veil, a site of cross-cultural mistranslation, they remap the world and uncover the possible spaces of transnational literacy and communication.

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