New Media Exhibition: Iterations as Habitats


Can You Hear Me?

Can You Hear Me

2015 | Shazia Javed

The short video Can You Hear Me? poses a series of questions through different iterations of a single question.

The short video is composed of scenes featuring a young woman, performed by actor Nawal Salim, asking whether she can be heard. Dressed at times with her face and hair covered in niqab, face uncovered and hair covered in hijab, or face and hair uncovered, Javed’s character asks whether her voice can be heard over what her clothing is imagined to say.

In predominantly non-Muslim places like Mississauga (Canada), what a Muslim woman wears is often understood to say more than what she might say through words or actions. The young woman contemplates why particular neighbors can only hear her voice when she wears particular clothing.

The short video asks us to think about our preconceptions that might inadvertently silence the perspectives of Muslim women. It also evokes the struggle for democracy in Canada, where a Québec judge refused to hear the case of Rania El-Alloul because she was in hijab and the Canadian state has put forward measures to ban niqab at citizenship ceremonies. Other democracies with similar policies and practices that silence Muslim women include France, Switzerland, and the United States


Shazia Javed (India/Canada) is a writer, photographer and filmmaker. Her film Namrata, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, was a finalist for three AMPIA (Alberta Media Production Industries Association) Awards. Her work has screened at Hot Docs International documentary film festival, Global Visions, Doxa, and Durban international film-festival among many others. Javed’s writings have been published in various newspapers, online magazines, and academic journals. In 2010, Edmonton Arts Council hosted an exhibition of her photo-essay on Edmonton’s Muslim Women. Her academic research interests include transnational feminism, Muslim women’s social movements, South Asian diaspora, new media, documentaries, and Hindi films.