Nissrine, a Moroccan girl, reads an application for a Dutch citizenship course. An alternative version of Johannes Vermeer’s painting Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window. Photo by Jan Banning.
“Xenophobia, especially Islamophobia, is rising in many European countries…I feel it is necessary to mobilize against such intolerance. My ‘National Identities’ series gives immigrants the main role, using them as models in my photographic variations on classic paintings.”
“Girl with Alopecia” is a self-portrait reinterpretation of the famous painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer. “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, said to be the “Mona Lisa” of the north, is deemed as one of the most beautiful paintings. The beautiful pale girl with her light facial features almost blending in with her skin.
It’s almost as the girl in the painting has no eyebrows, no eyelashes and no visible hair due to her turban. To me, as a woman suffering from alopecia and as a woman with no eyebrows, barely no eyelashes or hair, this painting is a celebration. The girl in the painting is a celebration of me as she has features that I consider my weaknesses - yet still the painting is one of the most beautiful paintings in the world. As a human, I look for myself in everything - and I found myself, with all of my faults, in “Girl with a Pearl Earring”.