Wednesday, February 12, 2014

'KESH ANGELS' - MOROCCAN WOMEN RIDERS

A border of soup cans - shades of Warhol - mixed with Lolita's heart glasses and a polka-dot veil...this is not your mother's burqa!
London artist Hassan Hajjaj was born in Morocco, and returns regularly to photograph the vibrant street culture of his native city of Marrakech.  His exhibit of photographs of women motorcyclists can be seen through March 7 at the Taymour Grahne Gallery in NYC, titled 'Kesh Angels', ('Kesh being an abbreviation of Marrakesh), and has generated significant media attention.
Attitude, with a backdrop of brilliant north African color
News outlets breathlessly 'reviewed' the exhibit by inaccurately describing it as 'Moroccan motorcycle girl gangs!', but the truth according to Hajjaj is more prosaic: "Most of the bikes [in the photos] are their own bikes, Marrakech is really a bike city, everybody rides them - young kids, men, women.  It's a feast for the eyes, you'll see a woman riding with a sheep behind her and her husband behind that, or 2 guys with a big sheet of glass between them.  An inspiration for me was Kerima, a 3rd generation henna painter in the main square, who rides her bike back and forth to work every day.  She speaks 4 or 5 languages, works 8-10 hours a day, raises two kids, and built her own house."
Nike's swoosh meets Legos with Arabic letters
Hajjaj riffs on multiple layers of Moroccan culture, from traditional African portrait studios (such as Malick Sidibe and Jean Depara) to Pop art use of soda cans and extensive appropriation of designer logos on definitely non-designer clothing.  His mashup of bad-girl attitude with luxury-branding on their veils and djeballah (head-to-toe coverings) certainly messes with stereotypes of Islamic women, as well as the current, peculiarly American trend of women riders to self-promote via the internet, simply because they ride.  What does it take for a girl to be cool?  In Marrakech, just as in LA, it's all about a motorcycle.


10 comments:

GuitarSlinger said...

This one .. gotta tell ya ... between the burkhas .. Nike branded clogs etc .... kinda creeps me out ... more than just a bit I might add ...

Hairy Larry said...

Fun stuff...look like motorcycle trading cards.

oliver james said...

my girlfriend is moroccan in fact shes in casablanca as i type and this makes me chuckle with showing off of the legs and the bikes its quite the social statement

Nortley said...

At first glimpse the lady in the yellow shades looked like Lily Tomlin goofing on a bike. Must have been that perfectly placed red dot. Original, intriguing, and there's a motorcycle there too. I'd say it fits the space. Let's have 8 more years.

Anonymous said...

To quote

“It's a feast for the eyes, you'll see a woman riding with a sheep behind her and her husband behind that” That’s what we call a Welsh threesome

Or” 2 guys with a big sheet of glass between them.” Obviously a Valentines reference, but can’t comment as it’s politically incorrect.

Also Muslim women will never wear a veil and show their legs, and as for having a driving license you’re having a laugh!

The Vintagent said...

Ha! You've got a very good point there regarding women's driving licenses in some countries, like Saudi Arabia, but that's no problem in Morocco...

Davidabl said...

I was never certain whether all this is for real or some sort of conceptual art

Don OReilly said...

Nice! We all have preconceptions about people and places we don't know... this one delivers a wink or a bitch-slap, depends on how you take it. Great post, thanks Paul!

Leslie Lim said...

Thanks for putting an effort to publish this information and for sharing this with us.

Cathy
www.gofastek.com

Anonymous said...

"Also Muslim women will never wear a veil and show their legs,"

Yeah, or maybe you just need to meet more Muslim women.