Meriem Bennani uses critical humor to reform preconceived notions about Islamic culture.
How do you challenge cultural issues, stereotypes, and points-of-view while remaining engaging and accessible to viewers? For New York-based, Morocco-born video artist, Meriem Bennani, humor is the ultimate solution.
One of the more engaging works in her portfolio isn’t available in its entirety online, but even its 43 second trailer is enthralling. FARDAOUS FUNJAB, a fictional documentary on the life of its eponymous “avant-garde hijab designer,” creates a world that instantly re-evaluates preconceived Western notions about Islamic attire. Fardaous and another women scroll through an iPad discussing the designer’s seemingly outlandish hijab designs, among them a Metallica edition "Funjab," as well a birthday edition that is literally a birthday cake on top of a hijab. What seems absurd quickly becomes a reflection on cultural biases—how are these designs anymore unusual than the plethora of far-out designs created by Western designers?
Bennani is also no stranger to collaborations. As Menthol Matin, she collaborates with Parisian musician Flavien Berger to create Some Silly Stories, a multi-episode animated series that alternates between absurdity, toilet humor, and critical examination veiled in a stark black-and-white, comic-like style. A particularly memorable moment includes a Bart Simpson look-alike bizarrely stating: “The eunuch wants to come back as a sperm donor horse, but I want to drive fast cars!”
To see more of Meriem Bennani’s hilarious, yet critical works, you can continue on to her website, or see her works as part of the SURFACE SUPPORT exhibition at Brooklyn’s Signal gallery through August 9th.