Meriem Bennani was born in 1988, in Rabat, Morocco. She lives and works in New York. Bennani’s work, which she regularly publishes on social-media outlets such as Instagram and Snapchat, applies unexpected humor and an absurdist sensibility to typically sensitive or taboo subjects, such as the wearing of the hijab by Muslim women.
Her videos sometimes expand into multimedia projects, such as Fardaous Funjab, a fictional reality-television show about a hijab designer, or her installation Gradual Kingdom. The latter addresses her hometown of Rabat and its construction of artificial islands and beach replenishment following climate-warming-induced erosion, which has contributed to the global sand shortage. Bennani’s works function simultaneously within and beyond specific cultural tropes, gently but pointedly asking the viewer to critically examine their own assumptions, especially those around the Muslim world.
See what Art21 was up to in June, including four new “Summer of Shorts” films and the selection of ten new Art21 Educators for the program’s seventh year.
In a new film from our New York Close Up digital series, artist Meriem Bennani subverts audience expectations of both pop culture and her Muslim community with unexpected playfulness and pathos, using social media-inspired effects.