2015 - 2017
On 2nd January 1492 the sultanate of Granada, Spain, fell to the hands of Catholic monarchs, after nearly 800 years of Arab-Islamic rule. It was the end of Al-Andalus, or Islamic Iberia.
Nowadays, echoes of an ancient Muslim presence can be found among a community that freely chose Islam over Christianity as their religion and Granada as their home. Between July 2015 and March 2017, I decided to approach some members of this group – in particular, a few ladies either born to Muslim converts or who converted later on their own.
At a time when "Europe" and "Islam" as terms are often set in conflict, the peaceful synchrony of these women in the environs of Granada was a testament to a bygone era. I wanted to hear their stories and at the same time offer a broader view on their aesthetics, an alternative to mainstream representations of Muslim women as demeaned, victimized, or exoticised subjects who cannot always express themselves and their own femininity.
My intention was then to show how these women live in harmony with the surrounding environment and embody a possible coexistence of Islamic and European culture. Historically, Islam has reflected the indigenous culture of places where it developed. European Islam is no exception to this: the way these women are Muslim is influenced by their being European and Spanish. They nurture their Islamic faith and live under Spanish laws; they follow the local fashion trends adjusting them to Islamic values; they are not segregated to peripheral areas of the city. Rather, they represent an active and visible presence of Granada’s landscape.
At this perilous moment in European and Arab-Islamic history, the presence of these Muslim women of Granada thus stands in contrast to an emerging fortress Europe. This series aims to shed light onto a reality that dissolves and questions cultural borders and gender roles in favour of a peaceful cohabitation of different values and more complex identities. Through the images of these women, I seek to add a tiny piece to the ever-changing puzzle of human geography.