If you think the epitome of style is black & white photography, Hassan Hajjajs art will blow the colour processing nerves in your mind. Born in Larache, Morocco, the multimedia artist moved to London, UK, as a teen and cites the music of both countriesas well as Andy Warholas a major influence. He is all about clashing cultures and colours. In the ongoing My Rock Stars series, Hajjaj dresses his African and Caribbean friends in traditional garb accented with kickin shades or Mad Men-worthy suits made of traditional Moroccan fabrics. These videos and stills are set against backdrops of contrasting textiles and framed with rainbow mosaics of reclaimed objects: pop cans, toy blocks, even tinned sardines. The look is haute couture meets street fashion, brightly hued, richly patterned, and completely Hajjaj-designed.
My Rock Stars
Like My Rock Stars, Kesh Angels are portraits of people looking effortlessly cool. While the former features Hajjajs predominantly male associates, the latter comprises photos of women in his neighbourhood of Marrakesh on their scooters. In an attempt to challenge preconceived notions of Islam and the Middle East, Hajjaj styles the women in djellabah and veils emblazoned with faux designer logos. As many Moroccan women choose not to cover their hair and/or faces, Hajjajs subjects look less like stereotypical victims of oppression than like the Japanese bosozoku biker chicks of decades past, rebelling against society in loose clothing and surgical masks.
One of the Kesh Angels, henna artist Karima, is challenging another art medium with the photographer. Hajjajs first feature-length film, Karima: A Day in the Life of a Henna Girl, premiered in LA on May 13 and will debut at Art Basel in Switzerland this June.
And if the documentary is as colourful and vibrant as his other works, permanent retinal burn may result.