Hassan Hajjaj, My Rockstars series, Bumi Sittin’ 2013 © Hassan Hajjaj
Courtesy of the artist and New Art Exchange
With an exuberant melee of colours, patterns, appropriated brand logos and found objects, Hassan Hajjaj’s The Path is a timely exploration of global culture across continents through the unique lens of acclaimed Moroccan-British photographer.
Assembled by renowned curator, writer and broadcaster Ekow Eshun the exhibition draws inspiration from the album The Path by the jazz-fusion musician Ralph MacDonald, which pays artistic testament to the diasporic scattering of peoples of African descent around the globe, a common theme in Hajjaj’s practice.
This exhibition of photography and video confronts Hajjaj’s dual-identity, referencing his personal journey from his birthplace in Larache, Morocco, to London and beyond, and his experience working around the world.
The Path incorporates three major photographic series: the first, Dakka Marrakchia, sees women pose like fashion models on the streets and rooftops of Marrakech while dressed in camouflage pattern abayas and Louis Vuitton print face veils, the portraits offering a deliberate refutation of stereotypes of Islamic women as subjugated and disempowered.
In My Rockstars Hajjaj turns his focus to British personalities, concentrating primarily on figures such as jazz musician Kamaal Williams. As always, his subjects hail from a range of racial and ethnic backgrounds creating, in composite, a portrait of Britain at its most dynamically diverse.
The final series, Between presents a selection of Hajjaj’s photography that focuses on landscape, place and sensibility, rather than portraiture. Reflecting the artist’s travels in Africa and the Middle East, the photographs reveal Hajjaj in a new light, as a photographer concerned with the intimacies of everyday life as well as the performed presentation of the self.
Through these works, Hajjaj conjures a vision of a society united, not divided, by difference. At a time of conflict within Britain, Hajjaj’s portraits make an urgent, timely case in favour of hybridity and multiculturalism. In his images, cultural identity is seen as fluid and multiple rather than fixed and singular – welcome to Hassan’s world!
We are really excited to show Hassan’s work at Arnolfini along with an exhibition of Chantal Joffe post lockdown. Dates to be confirmed.
Hassan Hajjaj moved to London in the 70’s and has since lived and worked between Morocco and the UK. Heavily influenced by the club, hip-hop, and reggae scenes of London as well as by his North African heritage, his artistic practice reveals his capacity to bridge both cultures, as well as the interweaving worlds of art, music and fashion. Showing for the first time in Bristol, the city’s rich musical heritage and complex social and cultural history provides an additional layer of context to Hajjaj’s work, explored through the exhibition’s three distinct bodies of work and associated programme.
Hassan Hajjaj: The Path is a touring exhibition by New Art Exchange, Nottingham, curated by Ekow Eshun.
Hassan Hajjaj: The Path is a project strand of NAE’s three year programme, Africa/UK – Transforming Art Ecologies, which has been supported by Arts Council, England’s, Ambitions for Excellence funds.