Six video stills of a woman covered with various veils.

Cherchez la femme

Wig, Burqa, Wimple

Headlines and swimwear, headscarves and demonstrations, fashion shows and papal audiences – how much religiosity secular societies can tolerate is shown in our current exhibition. In the 1950s and 1960s, style icons like Grace Kelly wore the headscarf as a fashion accessory. Today, religious context is the main reason why women cover their hair. These traditions go back to ancient times, when status and fashion determined which women were veiled. Hair was still regarded as too intimate to be shown publicly for many cultures.

Past exhibition

Map with all buildings that belong to the Jewish Museum Berlin. The Libeskind building is marked in green


Libeskind Building, ground level, Eric F. Ross Gallery
Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969 Berlin

Cherchez la femme - ARTE Exhibition Trailer, in German; ARTE GEIE - Auszug aus Rendez-Vous Kultur

Today, women in Judaism and Islam find new ways to combine their religious traditions with a modern lifestyle. Conflicts in masculine societies are inevitable; the boundaries of what is acceptable are under constant negotiation.

The Cherchez la femme exhibition presented a wide range of ideas and opinions regarding head and body coverings. Traditional ideas were juxtaposed with current fashion, religion with secular societies.

How do those who are often ignored in the heat of the debate describe their own situation? Whether complying with a strict Islam, or secular Muslims, religion as a private matter or wearing a headscarf as a sign of cultural self-determination – diverse women’s voices were heard in the exhibition. Rounding out the exhibition were works by Jewish and Muslim artists. Each of these women deals in her own way with the forces at work between tradition and participation in society and current social discourses.

Four video stills of a woman removing veil after veil

Undressing/Soyunma by Nilbar Güreş, 2006; courtesy of the artist and Rampa Istanbul, photo: Nicole Tintera.
In her video performance Undressing, Nilbar Güreş (b. 1977) reflects on the situation in Austria, where Muslim women who wear headscarves are often reduced to the role of a silent puppet of their faith and de-personalized. As Güreş removes veil after veil she recites the names of the women in her family.


Curators: Miriam Goldmann, Naomi Lubrich

Exhibition design: büroberlin

Media Partner

Logo: Wall AG Logo: arte

Exhibition Information at a Glance

  • When

    31 Mar to 27 Aug 2017

  • Where

    Libeskind Building, ground level, Eric F. Ross Gallery
    Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin
    See Location on Map

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