Arts, Culture & Media

Moroccan girls, motorbikes, and polka dot veils are important themes in this photographer's work

Rider_Highres.jpg

Credit:

Courtesy Hassan Hajjaj and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York, NY.

"Rider" (2010).

Moroccan women pose on their motorbikes wearing polka dot veils and traditional abayas.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

"Kesha gang" is the latest photo exhibition by the Moroccan photographer Hassan Hajjaj.

He moved from Morocco to the UK when he was a teenager.

But he says his passion for photography began in the years he lived in Morocco.

It all started when his father lived in the UK and he, along with his mother and siblings, went to a photography studio to have their portraits taken.

"Every few years we would dress up and go to a local studio and ... they would take a picture. Then a few says later you'd go to collect the picture to send to my father in the UK."

It was those moments that made Hajjaj fall in love with photography.

After moving to the UK, a friend of Hajjaj bought him a camera and he began taking pictures of things he saw around him.

Over the years, traveling back and forth from the UK to Morocco, Hajjaj continued to draw inspiration from his surroundings.

On one trip, he met a woman named Karima, who eventually became the inspiration for him to create his motorbike series.

Karima works in a square in Marrakesh popular with tourists.

"She wears a veil and these really amazing textile abayas, [the traditional Moroccan clothing], and also rides a bike to work and back," he says.

Hajjaj calls Karima his hero.

"She's a normal woman who works eight, 10 hours a day. She speaks about four or five languages... she has street smarts."

Hajjaj saysa after he met Karima, he started photographing some of her friends as well.

To make the women pose naturally for the camera, Hajjaj says, trust played a key role.

When he first started out, Hajjaj says, there were moments he felt "very lonely."

"Being Moroccan, doing what I suppose is called "Arab Art," it was a bit of a lonely space," he says.

But all that has changed today. He says he gets support from people in the UK and Morocco.

His biggest support in Morocco comes from the younger generation.

  • NikeeRider_Highres.jpg

    Credit:

    Courtesy Hassan Hajjaj and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York, NY.

    "Nikee rider" (2007).

  • Gang Of Marrakesh_Highres.jpg

    Credit:

    Courtesy Hassan Hajjaj and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York, NY.

    "Gang of Marrakesh" (2000).

  • HH055.jpg

    Credit:

    Courtesy of Hassan Hajjaj and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York, NY

    “Khadija” (2010)

  • KickStart_Highres.jpg

    Credit:

    Courtesy of Hassan Hajjaj and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York, NY.

    “Kick Start” (2006).

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