Photographer Hassan Hajjaj‘s latest project focuses on the sub culture of young women bikers from Marrakesh. Titled the “Kesh Angels”, he created striking images of groups of women wearing colorful veils and djellabah straddling worn scooters and motorbikes.
They represent something quite traditional, yet also astoundingly subversive and daring.
The women all hold strong poses, and are somewhat confrontational. Hajjaj places them within bright and beautiful frames – choosing different images and symbols from the Medina, all with a distinct Pop Art feel.
Primarily a portrait photographer, Hajjaj is well versed in bringing out the colorful character of his subjects. He started his career taking photos of friends, artists, musicians and strangers on the streets of Marrakesh. His style perfectly embodies the social, active and vitality of the culture in northern Africa, while offering a glimpse into the more unknown aspects.
Using a slight hip hop influence, Hajjaj also reflects on issues of consumerism, branding and globalization and how these issues affect a place like Morocco. The subtlety and humor he uses to approach such complex subjects is very effective. Seeing these women in traditional clothing, branded with Nike is unsettling at the very least – and that’s not even mentioning the motorbike in the middle of the scenario. Engaging in what is usually a male dominated activity, these women are breaking many taboos, and display an easy confidence about it all.
Hajjaj has been involved in many projects aimed at raising awareness of the treatment and roles of women in Morocco. With such a strong visual language, he is definitely succeeding in capturing our attention.
I’m sure most of us have a love of chocolate and confectionery – sometimes indulging ourselves a little, and sometimes we binge, purge and gorge our way to diabetes with the sweet stuff. Embroidery artist Charlotte Bailey of Hanging By A Thread has taken her obsession to a healthier place. Instead of eating the chocolate and candy bars, she has been reworking the logos and house hold brand names of the sweets with colorful, eye-catching embroidery thread. Bailey ever-so-slightly changes the wording of the labels to allude to the darker side of the confectionery industry.
Hershey’s is now changed to Hurtey’s; Milky Bar to Guilty Bar; Oreo to Ohno; Cadbury to Calories. The embroidered pieces are loaded with emotionally charged messages that remind us of the seriousness of an eating disorder. Bailey taps into the thought processes that pass through people’s heads when thinking of buying their next candy fix.
She points out the scary subtext that is always there with any kind of confectionery, or actually with any commodity that is superfluous to our needs. We are always being told to buy more; need more. Whether it’s the style of the attractive packaging and optimistic-looking font, or the level of sugar content in the product, we are always left wanting more.
And if you want more of Bailey’s clever designs, the collection of embroideries are on display at Menier Gallery in London from 28th July – 2nd August 2015.
Carlie Armstrong’s Work Place site is a fantastic ongoing documentary project documenting the work places of Portland creatives. Whether it’s a painter, a musician, or designer, Carlie aims to not just understand the creative process but to also document the spaces that contain them.
Commercial photographer Andy Freeberg deals mostly in, well, commercial work, but recently has been exploring fine art photography as well. In his series “Guardians” we get a look at the female guards who watch over the art museums of Russia. Freeberg says, “When you look at the paintings and sculptures, the presence of the women becomes an inherent part of viewing the artwork itself. I found the guards as intriguing to observe as the pieces they watch over.” Indeed, the contrast between these women and the work they’re sitting next to can be quite captivating.
Along with working as an editorial photographer, James Pearson – Howes also creates wonderful themed series of photographic documentations. I especially enjoyed his continuing series, British Folk which follows various people who take part in folk events that are held throughout Britain.
We’ve all seen the “Before and After Photoshop” versions of photographs, displaying the ways in which various media distort our perception of ideal beauty. But what would these images look like in other countries? With her series Before & After,Esther Honig, a radio journalist based out of Kansas City, asked just that. With the help of Fiverr, a website for freelancers, she got in touch with artists from forty different countries; emailing each a self-portrait, she wrote, “Hi, my name is Esther Honig. Make me look beautiful.” When they did not understand the assignment, she simply told them to make her look like the most popular fashion models.
When artists from twenty-seven countries replied, she was astonished with the results. Some edits were so dramatic that she yelped aloud; others, like the image from Morocco, in which she was given a hijab, stole her breath. Some cultures favor a bare face where others apply makeup. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the work is the overwhelming presence of Western feminine ideals: pale white skin, pink cheeks, a dainty nose, and wide eyes contoured with trimmed brows.
In the end, the series expresses the extend to which often oppressive beauty ideals are meaningless; where a woman is declared beautiful in one culture, she might be plain in another. Yet for all women, regardless of ethnicity and background, the pressure to be beautiful remains, propagated by the whims of the contemporary media. Writes Honig, “Photoshop allows us to achieve our unobtainable standards of beauty, but when we compare those standards on a global scale, achieving the ideal remains all the more illusive.” (via Buzzfeed)