Stylish Photography From The Streets Of Morocco In This Free Exhibition
A woman sits astride a motorcycle with her face covered with a veil covered in polka dots. She's clearly Muslim but she also looks ultra-chic. In the middle of the gallery stands a motorbike decked out out with Louis Vuitton logos.
This is the photography of Hassan Hajjaj. His free exhibition at Somerset House gives us a look into a North Africa of consumer brands and street fashion.
He's challenging the perception that veiled women are disempowered by photographing them out on their scooters and motorcycles, wearing fashionable clothing — it's a great counter to those who believe all veiled women are somehow subservient. The photographs are styled in a way that suggests they could have popped out of the pages of a glossy magazine, with their bright backgrounds and exaggerated poses.
It's not just veiled women. Other fashionable men and women also feature in the photographs, with video screens giving nine different musicians the same treatment, with the added soundtrack of them playing their instruments.
To build on this feeling of Western style consumerism, each photograph is framed with local products, from peanuts to Karma Cola. It's a sign of the power of advertising and globalisation that these products look so similar to products we'd find on the shelves here. It's work that clearly owes a debt to Andy Warhol and his soup cans, but with a North African twist.
Hajjaj's work shows us how Western and North African cultures, fashion and branding are a lot more similar than we'd expect. The result is a photography exhibition that oozes style.
Hassan Hajjaj: La Caravane is on at Somerset House, Terrace Rooms until 7 January 2018. Entrance is free.
Last Updated 16 October 2017