‘High viz burka’ art is not new Birmingham lollipop lady

6 December 2023
What was claimed

A photo of a woman in a fluorescent face and body veil shows a new lollipop lady in Birmingham.

Our verdict

The image is of a performance art piece photographed in Venice back in 2015.

An image of a woman in a fluorescent face veil, dress and gloves is being shared with claims it shows a new crossing patrol warden in Birmingham. Several of the posts clarify: “SERIOUSLY this is for real, new lollipop lady in Birmingham”.

The image is actually a photo of a 2015 performance art project called “High visibility burqa” by artist Marco Biagini. (Despite the piece’s title, the burka is actually a loose outer garment that covers the whole body and includes a mesh cover over the eyes, and a niqab is a face and head covering that leaves the eyes visible.)

AFP Fact Check identified the photo as having been taken in Venice, likely in 2015. Other pictures show the same performance happening at the entrance of the 56th Venice Biennale art exhibition. The work was also taken to New York.

A satirical blog called the Rochdale Herald used the photo in a 2016 post claiming it showed “UK’s first Sharia Law compliant lollipop lady”, although the image was edited to feature the word ‘police’. It’s not clear where the claim that the picture was taken in Birmingham comes from. 

The image was fact checked by Snopes back in 2015, after claims spread that the “outfit was created by a [sic] unidentified city government official in order to deter an impending discrimination lawsuit”. AFP Fact Check wrote about false claims that it showed former New Zealand Prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

We’ve written a guide here on how to fact check misleading images.

Image courtesy of Robert Linsdell

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