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Picture Spring-Summer collection 2018 (1)
- Hassan Hajjaj
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- Spring-Summer collection 2018 (1)
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Born in 1961 in Larache, in northern Morocco, Hassan Hajjaj now divides his time between London and Marrakech. His creative work bears witness to a fascination with urban cultures, consumer products, popular imagery and American Pop Art. Spotted by art critic Rose Issa in 2006, he has taken part in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Morocco, London (Leighton House Museum, 2008), Bamako (Rencontres Photographiques, 2010) and the Middle East. In 2009 he was one of the eight finalists in the Victoria & Albert Museum's Jameel Prize for Islamic art.
Hassan Hajjaj's photographic world draws its power and vitality from his personal history. A child of the 1960s, he grew up in Morocco and went on to discover London and its dazzling art scene. He worked there as a music promoter and music video producer, designed a line of fashion accessories and opened RAP, a ready-to-wear boutique that became a fashion hub in the 1980s. In the 2000s he drew on all this experience to create installations and decors full of his fascination with the flamboyant, organised chaos of Arab souks. Tweaking the function of artefacts and exaggerating decorative patterns, he invented playful, fun worlds that transcended the codes and usages of the living room – the main Moroccan living space – and challenged various aspects of Arab society.
During the same period he created photographic series whose meticulous mises en scène betray an admiration for Samuel Fosso, Malik Sidibé and David La Chapelle. In these images from Marrakech he plays on the sophisticated codes of fashion circles and music videos. He also succeeded in turning young, heavily veiled and jellaba-clad women into magazine icons and hip-hop stars. The photographs, looking at first glance like Orientalist fantasies, use humour and derision to exploit the ambiguities and contradictions implied by the veil and traditional dress. The accessories, sometimes embellished with haute couture and sportswear logos, transcend any pleading for Orientalism or the female condition and reveal, by standing things on their head, the commonplaces of the Western model and its consumer society.
Kitschy and highly coloured, subversive and outlandish, Hassan Hajjaj's images put crucial questions about the way East and West see each other, and about cultural exchange between them. They demonstrate that these two worlds are reciprocal creations, each existing, maybe, within the other.