In this series Namibian-born photographer Margaret Courtney-Clarke’s documents the daily lives and historical traditions of the Imazighen women of North Africa whose centuries old culture is slowly being forced to give in to the pressures of Arabisation and Westernization.
A month in Morocco and I feel that I am only scratching the surface, but finally starting to understand how some things work here. After being greeted by pleasantly easy going places free of hassle and annoying characters in the early goings, we eventually made it to the “other” part of the country.
In general, I’m not particularly bothered by the hassle any more. I’ve seen it all before, sometimes much worse. Nowadays, just as the hustlers size me up and see what they can get out of me, I am sizing them up and seeing what’s the funniest answer to give them or how to put them into a dead end, where they can’t ask any more stupid questions that inevitably lead to an invite to their friend’s shop, taking a tour on a camel with their cousin or just guilt-tripping me to give them some money.
I don’t find the hassle so frustrating any more, just a little sad that for a lot of the people, that’s all they’ll see, and, they’ll go off disappointed, thinking that all that the Moroccans want to do it rip them off. This, as I’ve already found out is far from the truth, but, I can’t blame anybody who has gone along the main tourist circuit (which is pretty big) for thinking otherwise.
What is somewhat frustrating, but, at the same time understandable is the fact that people, at least in these same, tourist-frequented areas have a real aversion to photography. No idea how it started. Religion would be too simple of an explanation. I’ve been to a few muslim countries before where the people were quite fine with having their photos taken. It is obviously cultural, but, what part of the culture is responsible, I still have no idea. The really frustrating part is that, I’ve seen an incredible amount of photogenic characters. I can however fully understand that none of them are there for my amusement, so, you smile to yourself and say “If only!”
With this frustration hanging over me, we hired a guide, to help smooth the way, as we went on a short trip to the Saghro mountains. I guess this post in some sense is an honest account of how things went. How important it is to have a great guide as the bridge between you and the people you’re photographing. Things definitely didn’t go to my plan, but, I got some images anyhow.
Posted by Louis_Dubreuil
Here are some photos from the book to post in the salon “orientalist…” at the place you want.
These pictures are from a big fund (700000 photos !) , the collection Ferrier-Soulier, Léon et lévy, Neurdein Frères et Compagnie des Arts Photomécaniques.
This collection has been purchased by the Roger Villet collection in 1970. Those photos cover a period between 1860 and first part of the XX°.
Some of these pictures have been used to illustrate a book “MAURESQUES” pictures of oriental women in the colonial photography (1860/1910) by Christelle Taraud (Albin Michel ed, ISBN 2 226 140743, october 2003).
The first picture represents a young tunisian woman lying on a sofa covered with a local rug (to be determined)
Etienne Dinet. A dancer of the Ouled Nail. 1890. Gouache.