With the help of a pop up studio that he would erect on the streets of Morocco, London, Paris and Kuwait, Hassan Hajjaj’s series, now 13 years in the making, will be shown for the first time at The Third Line. The series is simultaneously a hautcouture street experiment and a revival of African photography from the 1960s and 70s. Hajjaj’s subjects range from musicians, fashion designers, dancers to singers, capoeira masters, and boxers; all of whom are immortalized in a fleeting moment in time, sealing their muse-like qualities forever.
Hassan Hajjaj / Caravan, 2011, Metallic Lambda, Print on Dibond, 136x93 cm / Courtesy of The Third Line
Christopher Spring, curator of the North, East and South Africa at The British Museum explains “the key word in the title is ‘My’ because these are not all global superstars by any means, except in Hassan’s eyes, of course. He is the alchemist who transforms them, on one level, by the simple addition of his signature sunglasses, socks, hats or suits made of flour sacks. On a deeper level the transformation is through the lens of Hassan’s camera, for these images also represent a tribute to the great studio masters of photography in Africa – Keïta, Sidibé and particularly Samuel Fosso.”
Hassan Hajjaj / Hindi Zahra, 2011, Metallic Lambda, Print on Dibond, 136x93 cm / Courtesy of The Third Line
Much like Hajjaj’s personal exploration, the photographic series, is an on-going examination of belonging in an increasingly globalized society where boundaries of cultural identity – most notably African, Arabic and Western – are constantly being pushed. Using traditional mats and fabrics as well as found objects that he sources in local markets of his hometown Marrakech, Hajjaj bridges the gap between past and present and various cultures, creating pieces that seamlessly merge folkloric elements into Western contemporary art.
Hassan Hajjaj / Artc Framed, 2011, Metallic Lambda, Print on Dibond, 136x93 cm / Courtesy of The Third Line
Hassan Hajjaj / Zezo Tamsamani, 2011, Metallic Lambda, Print on Dibond, 136x93 cm / Courtesy of The Third Line
Hassan Hajjaj’s work encompasses many techniques and fields, from designing and producing furniture including lamps, stools, poufs made from recycled North African artifacts such as upturned Coca-Cola crates as stools, road signs turned into tables tops as well as custom made clothes and photography. His work is in the permanent collection of the Farjam Collection, Dubai; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Institut des Cultures d’ Islam, Paris; Kamel Lazaar Foundation, Tunisia; Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, Virginia; and the Wedge Collection, Wedge Curatorial Projects, Toronto.