This week’s issue of the magazine includes a photograph from Hassan Hajjaj’s series “ ’Kesh Angels.” Hajjaj, who is fifty-three, was born in Morocco and moved to London in his teens, where he worked as a d.j., a promoter, a stylist, and a designer. Before taking up photography, in his late twenties, Hajjaj returned to Morocco to work as an assistant on a photography shoot for a fashion magazine. He says that he was frustrated to see his native country used only as a backdrop for Western women and clothing, and that the experience pushed him to make Morocco a prominent subject in his own work.
Hajjaj’s portraits draw on the work of African luminaries such as Malik Sidibe and Seydou Keita, but they also retain a modern feel, juxtaposing traditional Muslim clothing —hijabs, niqabs, babouches, and abayas—with Moroccan biker culture and famous Western brands, like Nike and Louis Vuitton. Hajjaj uses his friends as models, and he designs their outfits with traditional prints and counterfeit brand-name fabrics from markets in London and Marrakesh. He also builds the frames for these pictures from found objects: Legos with Arabic lettering, cans of Fanta, boxes of chicken stock. Hajjaj’s first solo show in New York opens tonight, at the Taymour Grahne gallery, in Tribeca, and is on view through March 8th.
All photographs courtesy , New York, and Rose Issa Projects, London.
To view selected photographs from 'Kesh Angels, visit the article on the New Yorker website.