• A few people in 2014 had a knee-jerk reaction to the very sight of a burqa and incorrectly assumed that my first series favoured forcing women to wear one. It was simply an allegorical device referencing immigration, rising populism, empathy and assimilation.
© Fabian Muir.
    A few people in 2014 had a knee-jerk reaction to the very sight of a burqa and incorrectly assumed that my first series favoured forcing women to wear one. It was simply an allegorical device referencing immigration, rising populism, empathy and assimilation. © Fabian Muir.
  • This sequel’s aims are no different. Significantly different, however, are today’s parameters. Whereas Blue Burqa addressed only Australian issues, the sequel finds itself confronted by drastically changed global conditions: a not-always-united Europe grappling with an unprecedented crisis as it tries to assimilate refugees; a surge in extreme right wing movements in traditionally tolerant societies; an Australia where 49% of the population would like to put a halt to Muslim immigration.
© Fabian Muir.
    This sequel’s aims are no different. Significantly different, however, are today’s parameters. Whereas Blue Burqa addressed only Australian issues, the sequel finds itself confronted by drastically changed global conditions: a not-always-united Europe grappling with an unprecedented crisis as it tries to assimilate refugees; a surge in extreme right wing movements in traditionally tolerant societies; an Australia where 49% of the population would like to put a halt to Muslim immigration. © Fabian Muir.
  • Meanwhile, President Trump has already attempted to impose a comprehensive travel ban upon selected Muslim nations with the stroke of his pen.
© Fabian Muir.
    Meanwhile, President Trump has already attempted to impose a comprehensive travel ban upon selected Muslim nations with the stroke of his pen. © Fabian Muir.
  • Bringing the burqa in this series into sometimes confronting or disorienting urban environments, my project seeks to reflect this world and encourage greater understanding.
© Fabian Muir.
    Bringing the burqa in this series into sometimes confronting or disorienting urban environments, my project seeks to reflect this world and encourage greater understanding. © Fabian Muir.
  • President Trump’s sordid attempt to thrust anti-Muslim sentiment onto the mainstream agenda under the guise of homeland security suggests a jingoistic, reckless desire to generate paranoia and provoke a so-called clash of civilisations based on nationality and belief.
© Fabian Muir.
    President Trump’s sordid attempt to thrust anti-Muslim sentiment onto the mainstream agenda under the guise of homeland security suggests a jingoistic, reckless desire to generate paranoia and provoke a so-called clash of civilisations based on nationality and belief. © Fabian Muir.
  • Some of the current news footage is already beginning to resemble the sort of dystopian vision that was previously the domain of novels.
© Fabian Muir.
    Some of the current news footage is already beginning to resemble the sort of dystopian vision that was previously the domain of novels. © Fabian Muir.
  • These developments raise a great many questions. Why does the mere fact that someone was born in a certain country or hold dual citizenship automatically make them a suspected terrorist? While other major western governments oppose the ban, why does the Australian government remain largely compliant? How could any conscientious person criticise Angela Merkel’s exemplary and humanitarian approach to the refugee crisis as a “catastrophic mistake”?
© Fabian Muir.
    These developments raise a great many questions. Why does the mere fact that someone was born in a certain country or hold dual citizenship automatically make them a suspected terrorist? While other major western governments oppose the ban, why does the Australian government remain largely compliant? How could any conscientious person criticise Angela Merkel’s exemplary and humanitarian approach to the refugee crisis as a “catastrophic mistake”? © Fabian Muir.
  • How can 49% of Australians be so devoid of empathy and understanding, vilifying refugees who leave their own homes to escape horrific circumstances — in some cases caused by western intervention — as if this were a criminal act? What has happened to the presumption of innocence, a fundament of any functioning justice system?
© Fabian Muir.
    How can 49% of Australians be so devoid of empathy and understanding, vilifying refugees who leave their own homes to escape horrific circumstances — in some cases caused by western intervention — as if this were a criminal act? What has happened to the presumption of innocence, a fundament of any functioning justice system? © Fabian Muir.
  • We are facing issues that go to the heart of our humanity and the very nature of western democracy. How thinking people and governments now respond will be crucial in defining who we really are.
© Fabian Muir.
    We are facing issues that go to the heart of our humanity and the very nature of western democracy. How thinking people and governments now respond will be crucial in defining who we really are. © Fabian Muir.
  • Despite everything, I remain optimistic and Urban Burqa is intended as a small part of that response.
© Fabian Muir.
    Despite everything, I remain optimistic and Urban Burqa is intended as a small part of that response. © Fabian Muir.
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Fabian Muir's Urban Burqa is the sequel to the 2014 series, Blue Burqa in a Sunburnt Country. The initial series was conceived as a response to rising anti-immigration sentiment and the Abbott government’s stance at that time. 

Muir says that the sequel finds itself released in a world that has shifted even more dramatically for the worse, with populist leaders prospering in all corners, and Muslims at large finding themselves subject to blanket judgments and knee-jerk reactions based mainly on the actions of 30,000 fanatics in Iraq and Syria.

With 49% of Australians opposed to Muslim immigration, the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe and the Trump administration’s efforts to impose a Muslim travel ban, Urban Burqa again seeks to address issues of assimilation, confrontation and understanding.

We are facing issues that go to the heart of our humanity and the very nature of western democracy. How thinking people and governments now respond will be crucial in defining who we really are.
© Fabian Muir.
We are facing issues that go to the heart of our humanity and the very nature of western democracy. How thinking people and governments now respond will be crucial in defining who we really are. © Fabian Muir.

About Fabian Muir

Fabian Muir is an award-winning Australian photographer. The principal motivation behind his projects and practice is a focus on humanist issues combined with strong visual storytelling.

Amongst other outlets, his work has appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, Vice, LensCulture, Spiegel, Vogue Entertaining + Travel, BuzzFeed, Leica Magazine, Black + White Magazine, France Culture (Radio France), The Sydney Morning Herald, Fotoblogia (Poland), Mindfood Magazine, Ampersand Magazine, Studio Magazine, The Age and Feature Shoot.

His documentary and fine art images have been acquired by many significant collections. He has been honoured as finalist in the 2017 FotoEvidence Book Award for Searching for North Korea. He received an inaugural Magnum Photography Award for a documentary series for Intimate Perspectives on North Korea and was a finalist in the 2016 Miami Street Photography Festival. His short film Holiday in Abkhazia won the award for best screenplay at the Strasbourg International Film Festival in 2009. With a soft spot for cricket, he also contributes features and photographs to ESPNcricinfo.com and has written for Wisden. He speaks fluent German, French, and Spanish, while his Russian sputters with the determination of a Lada on a rather steep incline.

He is represented by Michael Reid in Sydney and Berlin.

www.fabianmuir.com

 

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